Russia: Merchandise exports accelerate in January
Merchandise exports jumped 72.0% in annual terms in January (December: +60.0% year-on-year). Meanwhile, merchandise imports rose 40.1% on an annual basis in January (December: +22.4% yoy), marking the best result since May 2021.
As a result, the merchandise trade balance deteriorated from the previous month, recording a USD 21.2 billion surplus in January (December 2022: USD 26.7 billion surplus; January 2021: USD 9.0 billion surplus). Lastly, the trend pointed up, with the 12-month trailing merchandise trade balance recording a USD 202.2 billion surplus in January, compared to the USD 190.1 billion surplus in December.
Looking forward, the fallout from the war in Ukraine and associated international sanctions are set to hammer Russia’s external sector this year. Commenting on sanctions against Russia’s energy sector, economists at UniCredit noted:
“US will ban imports of oil from Russia. The move is not consequential, given that the US received less than 5% of Russian exports of oil and derivates last year. Energy analysts estimate that deliveries of Urals fell by 30-70% since the West imposed sanctions on Russia. [Moreover, EU measures] could reduce EU demand for Russian gas by two thirds before the end of the year.”
On the EU-Russia trade backdrop, Inga Fechner and Rico Luman, economists at ING, said:
“EU countries have banned exports of a range of high-tech products, equipment, materials, and machinery to Russia […] These products cover at least 40% of the export package to Russia based on the EU sanctions list. Formal sanctions, in addition to extensive self-sanctioning, will have a strong impact on trade this year. Shipments to and from Russia have been banned, resulting in stagnating commodity flows.”