Russia: Solid trade recovery continues at beginning of 2017
March 30, 2017
Merchandise exports in Russia totaled USD 25.1 billion in January, which represented a substantial 47.2% increase compared with the USD 17.1 billion observed in the same month last year. The increase followed an 8.3% expansion in December and represented the fastest growth pace in nearly seven years.
The yearly surge partly reflected a low base of comparison since Russian shipments abroad nosedived nearly 40% in January 2016 owing to ultra-low oil prices in the period. Due to an increase in oil prices at the beginning of this year, oil exports increased 47% year-on-year, despite Russia’s announcement that the oil sector has been cutting production in compliance with the OPEC deal late last year. In more encouraging news from the broader economy, non-oil exports also grew strongly in January (+37.6% year-on-year), particularly exports of machinery and equipment. This has probably been driven by a pickup in demand in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) region, where exports grew 35%, confirming the upturn in the region.
Imports increased 38.9% annually in January (December: +10.6% yoy) to a total of USD 13.7 billion, reflecting the healthier state of domestic demand. The increase in imports marked the sixth consecutive month of expansion and drove the trade surplus to a total of USD 11.4 billion, which was larger than the USD 7.2 billion surplus in January 2016. The gradual recovery of Russia’s external sector is more visible in the trailing 12-month sum of the trade surplus, which amounted to a five-month high of USD 94.6 billion in January, suggesting that a positive upward trend remains in place.
Author: Ricardo Aceves, Senior Economist