RANEPA study: How does Russian trade adapt to sanctions?

Russia’s foreign trade is experiencing the most serious sanctions pressure from unfriendly countries. However, in the past year, Russia has managed to redirect its trade flows to the markets of allied and neutral states, according to Alexander Knobel and Alexander Firanchuk, experts of the International Commerce Research Laboratory at the Institute of Applied Economic Studies of the Russian Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA).

Russia’s trade in 2022 amounted to $850 billion while trade surplus reached $332 billion. Exports reached the record value of $591 billion thanks to growing hydrocarbons rates that compensated for the reduced exports of other goods. The share of fuels in exports reached 65%.

Imports amounted to $259 billion, with Russia turning to neutral markets. The share of neutral countries in Russia’s exports and imports grew to 64% and 75%, respectively, in H2, including China’s share of 18% in exports and 35% in imports.

Since mid-2022, the value of exports to neutral countries and the value of imports from both categories of countries have stabilized. By Q4 2022, both exports and imports from the major unfriendly countries significantly dropped: by 98% and 85% to/from the UK, by 72% and 84% to/from the United States, by 46% and 51% to/from South Korea and 40% to/from Japan.

Among the largest neutral trade partners, supplies from the countries geographically closer to the European part of Russia show the best dynamics: imports from Turkey grew by 84% in Q4 2022 and Kazakhstan by 52%. Imports from remote partners grew slower, including China (+19%), Brazil (+23%) and India (‒4%). This trend indirectly points to a substantial share of parallel imports in the supplies from the closest neutral countries.

Exports to China, Russia’s major trade partner, have increased by 44% in the past year, to $114 billion. The biggest relative growth was noted in Russian exports to Turkey (110% to $62 billion) and India (330% to $36 billion), attributed to redirecting oil traffic. The analysis is based on the open data from the Russian Federal Tax Service and the statistics services of the respective countries.

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