Russia: Export growth halves in December
Merchandise exports totaled USD 41.4 billion in December, which represented a 10.2% expansion from the USD 37.5 billion sum recorded in the same month of 2017. Export growth was below November’s healthy 21.0% increase and marked the slowest expansion since July 2017.
Meanwhile, imports contracted 6.8% year-on-year in December, the worst reading in over two years (November: -1.9% yoy). Downbeat consumer sentiment, a weak ruble and soft domestic dynamics have weighed on import growth in recent months. Accordingly, the trade surplus came in at USD 18.9 billion in December, which was significantly above the USD 13.4 billion surplus recorded in December 2017.
In 2018, the trade surplus came to USD 195 billion, a notable improvement from 2017’s USD 115 billion surplus. Despite geopolitical uncertainties and sanctions, a recovery in energy prices and solid energy output helped fuel an improvement in the external sector. In addition, stunted imports due to a weak ruble and lackluster economy also drove the result.