Defying forecasts and various earlier estimates by others based on output data, Rosstat reported its first calculations that Russian GDP contracted just 0.25 % last year. Earlier figures suggested that in the first three quarters the GDP fell by 0.7 % y-o-y. The fresh annual data suggest those quarterly figures will likely change to less negative. Moreover, the rate of the 2015 GDP contraction became smaller again, scoring less than reported at end-December, and was now -2.8 %.
The supply-side items that kept the 2016 GDP drop mild included manufacturing, the real estate sector and agriculture, which showed fair increases in their value added to the GDP. The volume of Russian goods and services imports fell by 5 %, and was 35 % smaller than in the peak year of 2013.
As for demand-side items, private consumption fell 5 % in 2016, while revised estimates for 2015 show a decline of nearly 10 %, a larger drop than reported in last December's revision. Public consumption shrank just slightly last year. Fixed investment fell only about 1.5 % last year, but the revised 2015 drop was again clearly deeper (-9.5 %) than shown by earlier figures. The volume of Russian goods and services exports, which grew briskly already in 2015, increased by a couple of per cent last year. Inventories turned from a fall to rise, further braking the slide in GDP tangibly.
The re-revision of the 2015 GDP decline within a short period has raised comments about possible impacts of changes in Rosstat's statistical methodology. Rosstat recalled that the revisions are not due to change of methodology which was applied already earlier, starting from 2014 data published in December 2015. Rosstat noted the revisions of 2015 GDP reflect better data on operations of small and medium-sized firms and additional information on the government sector. In the normal course, the fifth round of publishing GDP 2015 data is planned to take place at the end of 2017.