Rosstat’s first GDP growth estimate for all of 2018, released on Monday (Feb. 4), surprised both Russian and foreign analysts. Rosstat estimates Russian GDP last year grew by 2.3 %. Preliminary figures for the first nine months of 2018 indicated GDP growth of 1.6 %, and available monthly data indicated no significant pick-up in growth.
One factor in the higher-than-expected growth figure was a significant revision of the construction activity data. It appears that a large share of construction work at the massive LNG facility on the Yamal peninsula was only booked in the end of 2018.
Despite the positive surprise, the acceleration in growth has not been broad-based. Growth in private consumption last year slowed to 2.2 % (3.2 % in 2017) and growth in public consumption remained at just 0.9 % (2.5 %). Preliminary figures indicate that fixed investment rose last year by only 2.3 % (5.5 %). The positive surprise in GDP growth in 2018 was largely due to increase in net exports. The growth in the volume of exports rose last year to 6.8 % (5.0 % in 2017), while growth in the volume of imports slowed to 3.8 % (17.4 %). First estimates of GDP are, however, still subject to several rounds of revisions.