19 JUNE 1947, Page 1

The German Economy

Much has been made of the similarities between the measures for the unified planning of industry and agriculture in the Russian Zone of Germany, which were announced last Sunday, and the recently published agreement for the economic re-organisation of the British and American Zones. But there is no guarantee that the two schemes will be similar in practice, and even if they are it still does not follow that the task of combining them into a single economic administration for Germany will become easier. Both schemes attempt to define the relationship between the central German administrations and the governments of the Lander. Both limit the central powers and reserve certain functions to the constituent States of each zone. But at the same time there is such a contrast between Russian and Anglo-American methods of supervision, such a divergence between Eastern and Western views on the possibility of political responsibility for Germans, and so many ambiguities and uncertainties in both schemes that they cannot provide a firm basis for hope. But neither do they give any excuse for despair. If the Germans can summon up a positive effort towards economic co- ordination, then the new measures should help rather than hinder them. Possibly a few small economic changes which have taken place in the Anglo-American Zone in the past week or so may assist the process of awakening the comatose economy. Restrictions on trade with Switzerland have been eased, Berlin exporting agencies have been given a little more discretion, an important agreement for the supply of American cotton on credit is being discussed, an Italian trade mission is expected, and Mr. Jack Jones continues his search for a firm policy for iron and steel. But at the same time the joint effect of Communist propaganda and Russian political action tends in precisely the opposite direction. The comments on the changes in the Anglo-American Zone are always abusive, and the Russian determination to have a veto an any appointment to the post of Mayor of Berlin is unshaken. The Russians are the same old Russians. But still the possibility must not be ruled out that the recent changes in their zone may in the end be changes for the better.