Russia-Commonwealth of Independent States Trade Up 6.8% In 9M 2022

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Energy, construction and agricultural trade all show sizeable increases  

By Chris Devonshire-Ellis  

The 96th meeting of the Economic Council of the Commonwealth of Independent States has taken part, with Russian Deputy Prime Minister Viktoria Abramchenko representing Russia. The Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) includes Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. It is not a Free Trade Group with common tariff and duty agreements between all members, but rather acts as a looser conglomerate whereby members agree specific bilateral trade agreements between each other, allowing for a more flexible approach.

However, five of the CIS members – Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia do have a Free Trade Agreement between them – the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU). The EAEU has Free Trade Partners with Iran, Serbia, Vietnam and China, with more countries poised to join.

Collectively, the CIS has a GDP (PPP) of US$5.5 trillion and a population of 239 million. GDP per capita (PPP) is estimated to be US$22,500 – about double that of China.

In her address, Abramchenko noted that the CIS member states are traditionally important partners of Russia, while trade with the CIS countries grew 6.8% percent to US$72.6 billion in the first nine months of 2022. Russian exports increased by 1.2% to US$45.9 billion, while Russian imports were up 18.1% to US$26.7 billion. Trade with the CIS countries accounted for nearly 11.5% of Russia’s total trade.

In January-September 2022, Russia’s exports to the CIS were dominated by petroleum products – 28.9% at US$13.3 billion, up by 4%, metals and metal products – 15.8& at US$7.3 billion, up by 9.4%, and food and agricultural raw materials – 15% at US$7.3 billion, up by 9.4%.

Abramchenko noted the active implementation of the action plan for the first phase (2021-2025) of the CIS Economic Development Strategy until 2030. The plan is aimed at promoting the economy and interstate trade and economic cooperation, developing new cooperation and infrastructure projects, and digitalizing the economy. It is also aimed at tapping the science, technology and education potential, developing nuclear energy, the agriculture industry and the monetary and financial sphere, and creating high-tech transport systems.

She stressed that measures to elaborate and implement regulatory and technical documents in the development of the common electricity market of the CIS member states will positively affect the growth of mutual trade in electrical power in the CIS countries, saying that, according to the estimates of the Russian side, the volume of mutual trade in electricity will increase by about 20% by 2025.

In addition, with the implementation of 2021-2030 transport priority cooperation of CIS members, exports of transport services from the CIS is expected to grow CIS GDP by about 4% per annum.

59 CIS banking organizations are also expected to join the Bank of Russia’s financial messaging system, as an alternative to SWIFT, also resulting in the growth of mutual trade during 2023 by another 4%, adding an additional US$15 million in multilateral trade compared to 2022, meaning that expected 2023 intra-trade growth rates for the CIS can be projected to be about 8-10% under current conditions.

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