Russia: Fall in exports and imports accelerates in March, trade surplus marks lowest in over two years
April 2, 2015
In March, exports totaled USD 29.9 billion, which were 36.3% lower compared to the same month last year. The reading marked the ninth contraction in the last 10 months and was worse than the revised 19.9% decrease registered in February (previously reported: -14.6% year-on-year). Imports reached USD 18.2 billion, which marked a 33.6% plunge in annual terms and registered the sixth consecutive month with a double-digit rate of contraction.
As a result of the deterioration seen in exports and imports, the trade surplus narrowed to USD 11.8 billion, which marked the lowest level since August 2012. Therefore, the accumulated trade surplus in the 12 months up to March reached USD 180 billion, which narrowed compared to the USD 188 billion surplus observed in the same period up to February.
Following a mild drop in mid-March, the price for Ural oil, which is Russia’s key export commodity, remains in an upward trend. At the end of April, Ural oil traded at USD 63.8 per barrel, which was 21.7% higher than at the end of March. Nevertheless, in the price for the Ural oil barrel remains 40.7% lower in annual terms.
Despite expectations that oil prices will remain low this year, Russian authorities had confirmed that the country will not reduce oil output. Meanwhile, the Russian Central Bank published its assessment of the country’s economic outlook, where it sees two scenarios. Under a baseline scenario, the Banks expects the price for Ural oil to average USD 80. Under a worst-case scenario, the Bank sees oil prices averaging USD 60.
Author: Ricardo Aceves, Senior Economist