During his September 1989 meeting with Secretary of State James Baker, Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze expressed the Soviet Union’s interest in actively participating in three postwar international economic institutions: the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD, better known as the World Bank), and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). Three months later, during the December 1989 Malta summit between presidents George Bush and Mikhail Gorbachev, President Bush expressed his support for a proposal to allow the Soviet Union observer status in GATT. The Shevardnadze statement and the Bush proposal are indicative of the favorable economic and political climate of U.S.-Soviet relations as the 1990s begin. East-West political and economic relations have improved immensely since August 1986, when the Soviet Union’s formal request for permission to participate in the eighth (Uruguay) round of international trade negotiations under GATT was promptly rejected. East European countries, in the meantime, appear to be turning to these same institutions for aid and guidance in their unique attempts at unprecedented transition from centrally planned to market economies—a transition made possible by the toppling of postwar Communist regimes in late 1989. Barring a significant step backwards in U.S.-Soviet relations—which could, for example, be precipitated by a show of force by Moscow in any one of many ethnic/regional conflicts in the Soviet Union or, although it now seems highly unlikely, in Eastern Europe—the Soviet Union is likely to continue to court these institutions. The issue of Soviet involvement in the IMF, World Bank, and GATT will raise the question of whether increased Soviet involvement in the economy will proceed along bilateral lines, whether it will occur within the multilateral postwar framework, or whether still other, new institutions 1 should be established to deal with international economic issues of the 1990s—in particular the integration of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union into the world economy.