Although Russian Customs ceased publication of foreign trade statistics after the invasion of Ukraine, it is possible to estimate Russian foreign trade with alternative data such as the “mirror” trade figures of Russia’s trading partners.
Based on data garnered from Russia’s main trading partners, it would seem that, despite the war, the value of Russia’s goods exports increased last spring. The strong export performance reflects high global commodity prices, multi-month transition periods in import restrictions on Russian goods, as well as Russia’s success in finding alternative export markets, particularly in Asia. The value of exports, however, appears to have turned to decline in recent months. Nevertheless, the value of Russia’s exports in August was roughly on par with pre-invasion months. There were large differences across countries, however. The value of exports from Russia to the EU was down by about 20 % in August from pre-invasion levels. The value of Russian exports to China, in contrast, was up by about 50 % in August-September from pre-invasion levels. In India’s case, the value of Russian exports was in August-September up five to six times from pre-invasion levels.
Russia’s goods imports contracted sharply last spring after the invasion of Ukraine, but have come back somewhat since. Based on the mirror figures of Russia’s trading partners, the value of Russia’s imports in August was down by about 30 % from pre-invasion months. Imports contracted in response to lower demand in Russia. Sanctions have limited trade possibilities and payment traffic with Russia. Many firms have also voluntarily decided to cease their operations or leave the Russian market altogether. Import figures also vary across countries. The value of Russia’s imports from the EU was down in August by about 50 % from pre-invasion levels. Russian imports have contracted also from countries not participating in sanctions. For example, imports from Thailand were down by 35 % in August and imports from Vietnam down by 60 %. Russia’s imports from China, however, have recovered to pre-invasion levels. Imports from Turkey have doubled from pre-invasion levels.
Based on the mirror statistics of Russia’s main trading partners, Russian goods imports appear to have revived in recent months
Sources: Eurostat, Macrobond, UN Comtrade, BOFIT.