Russia flag Russia: Economic and Political Overview

Foreign trade figures of Russia

Foreign Trade in Figures

The country is fairly open to foreign trade, which accounts for 46% of GDP (World Bank, 2020), despite strict laws and policies. Russia became a member of the WTO in 2012, is a member of the Commonwealth of Independent States, which have established a free trade area, and is a member of the Eurasian Customs Union. Russia and Ukraine have abolished mutual trade preferences. The Eurasian Customs Union has signed an agreement with Vietnam and is negotiating free trade agreements with, for example, Iran, India, Egypt, Singapore and Serbia. Russia is the 16th exporter and 21st importer of goods in the world (WTO, 2020). It mainly exports hydrocarbons (more than 50% of total exports), solid fuels, wheat and meslin, iron and steel, precious metals, precious stones and wood, and mainly imports machinery, pharmaceuticals, electronics, electrical products, vehicles and plastics. After dropping sharply in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the volume of exports and imports of goods and services rebounded in 2021. Exports increased by 3.2% compared to 2020, while imports surged by 17.3% (IMF). According to IMF forecast, exports should increase faster in 2022 (5.6%) before slowing down in 2023 (2.7%). Imports are expected to slow down in 2022 (6.8%) and even further in 2023 (1.6%).
 
Russia's main customers are China (14.6% of exports), the Netherlands (7.4%), the United Kingdom (6.9%), Germany (5.5%), Belarus (4.7%) and Turkey (4.7%). Its main suppliers are China (23.7% of imports), Germany (10.1%), the United States (5.7%), Belarus (5.4%) and Italy (4.4%). Since the conflict in Ukraine and the economic sanctions imposed by Western countries, the Kremlin has imposed an embargo on European and American agricultural products and has reconfigured its trade relations.
 
The country has recorded significant and regular trade surpluses since 1998, mainly due to the richness of its natural resources, notably hydrocarbons (crude oil and natural gas in particular). The trade surplus makes up easily for the deficit in services and income. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and falling oil prices, the surplus shrank in 2020. According to the latest WTO data, Russia exported USD 332.2 billion worth of goods in 2020, and imported USD 240.4 billion worth, posting a surplus of USD 91.8 billion (compared to USD 165.3 billion in 2019). The country exported 46.7 billion USD of services and imported 63.4 billion USD. According to preliminary data from the Russian central bank, the trade surplus increased to USD 162.8 billion during the period from January to November 2021 (compared to USD 82.9 billion during the same period in 2020), thanks to higher oil prices. Despite the efforts made since the imposition of sanctions, the substitution of domestic products for imports has hardly been successful, except in the food industry.

 
Foreign Trade Values 20172018201920202021
Imports of Goods (million USD) 238,384248,856254,598240,380303,994
Exports of Goods (million USD) 353,104443,914419,850332,227493,820
Imports of Services (million USD) 87,40093,41297,66863,43575,902
Exports of Services (million USD) 56,84763,62461,79346,70756,587

Source: World Trade Organisation (WTO) ; Latest available data

Foreign Trade Indicators 20162017201820192020
Foreign Trade (in % of GDP) 46.546.951.649.446.1
Trade Balance (million USD) 90,215114,558195,058165,25291,848
Trade Balance (Including Service) (million USD) 66,25683,235164,976128,50774,433
Imports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) -3.717.32.73.4-12.0
Exports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 3.25.05.60.7-4.3
Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 20.720.820.820.920.6
Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 25.926.130.828.525.5

Source: World Bank ; Latest available data

Foreign Trade Forecasts 2022 (e)2023 (e)2024 (e)2025 (e)2026 (e)
Volume of exports of goods and services (Annual % change) -16.0-3.05.23.11.9
Volume of imports of goods and services (Annual % change) -19.25.64.34.13.0

Source: IMF, World Economic Outlook ; Latest available data

Note: (e) Estimated Data

 
International Economic Cooperation
Russia is a member of the following international economic organisations: Eurasian Economic Union, IMF, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), OECD  (accession state), Black Sea Economic Cooperation Zone (BSEC), ICC, Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) (dialogue partner), G-8, G-20, WTO, Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), among others.
Free Trade Agreements
The complete and up-to-date list of Free Trade Agreements signed by Russia can be consulted here.
 

Main Partner Countries

Main Customers
(% of Exports)
2021
China 14.0%
Netherlands 8.6%
Germany 6.0%
Türkiye 5.4%
Belarus 4.7%
See More Countries 61.4%
Main Suppliers
(% of Imports)
2021
China 24.8%
Germany 9.3%
United States 5.9%
Belarus 5.3%
South Korea 4.4%
See More Countries 50.3%

Source: Comtrade, 2022. Because of rounding, the sum of the percentages may be smaller/greater than 100%.

 
 

Main Products

492.3 bn USD of products exported in 2021
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous...Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals, crude 22.5%
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous...Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals (excl. crude); preparations containing >= 70% by weight of petroleum oils or of oils obtained from bituminous minerals, these oils being the basic constituents of the preparations, n.e.s.; waste oils containing mainly petroleum or bituminous minerals 14.2%
Coal; briquettes, ovoids and similar solid fuels...Coal; briquettes, ovoids and similar solid fuels manufactured from coal 3.6%
Gold, incl. gold plated with platinum, unwrought...Gold, incl. gold plated with platinum, unwrought or not further worked than semi-manufactured or in powder form 3.5%
Semi-finished products of iron or non-alloy steelSemi-finished products of iron or non-alloy steel 1.9%
See More Products 54.3%
293.5 bn USD of products imported in 2021
Telephone sets, incl. telephones for cellular...Telephone sets, incl. telephones for cellular networks or for other wireless networks; other apparatus for the transmission or reception of voice, images or other data, incl. apparatus for communication in a wired or wireless network [such as a local or wide area network]; parts thereof (excl. than transmission or reception apparatus of heading 8443, 8525, 8527 or 8528) 3.9%
Parts and accessories for tractors, motor vehicles...Parts and accessories for tractors, motor vehicles for the transport of ten or more persons, motor cars and other motor vehicles principally designed for the transport of persons, motor vehicles for the transport of goods and special purpose motor vehicles of heading 8701 to 8705, n.e.s. 3.6%
Medicaments consisting of mixed or unmixed...Medicaments consisting of mixed or unmixed products for therapeutic or prophylactic uses, put up in measured doses "incl. those in the form of transdermal administration" or in forms or packings for retail sale (excl. goods of heading 3002, 3005 or 3006) 3.2%
Motor cars and other motor vehicles principally...Motor cars and other motor vehicles principally designed for the transport of persons, incl. station wagons and racing cars (excl. motor vehicles of heading 8702) 2.7%
Automatic data-processing machines and units...Automatic data-processing machines and units thereof; magnetic or optical readers, machines for transcribing data onto data media in coded form and machines for processing such data, n.e.s. 2.7%
See More Products 83.9%

Source: Comtrade, 2022. Because of rounding, the sum of the percentages may be smaller/greater than 100%.

 
 

To go further, check out our service Import Export Flows.

 

Main Services

61.3 bn USD of services exported in 2018
35.34%
20.68%
18.73%
8.87%
6.83%
2.51%
2.16%
1.67%
1.43%
0.95%
0.83%
92.0 bn USD of services imported in 2018
37.26%
22.18%
16.58%
6.84%
5.10%
4.35%
1.99%
1.67%
1.51%
1.43%
1.09%

Source: United Nations Statistics Division, 2022. Because of rounding, the sum of the percentages may be smaller/greater than 100%.

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Latest Update: November 2022