Foreign Economic Relations
Enver Hoxha's regime had maintained a legal stranglehold on the country's foreign commerce since World War II through state-run trading enterprises. For decades Albania had maintained no representative commercial offices in Western countries, and so deep was the Albanian dictator's animus toward the Soviet Union that the two countries carried on no trade at all for decades after their split in the early 1960s. Hoxha and his protégés created a formidable barrier to economic relations with the West in 1976 by incorporating into the country's constitution an amendment banning borrowing from capitalist countries. Trade with the West increased after Hoxha's death in 1985, but it was not until the end of the decade that Albania's government surrendered its monopoly on foreign trade. Lawlessness and graft soon made a mockery of almost all legal controls on foreign transactions. In mid-1991 the government was working to set up a free-market-based foreign trade system. After more than a decade of "self-reliance," during which balanced trade had been an essential element of Hoxha's economic doctrine, the country's economic collapse forced its foreign-trade balance and balance of payments deeply into the red. Albanians had to rely on outside aid just to feed themselves.
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