Russia Is Getting Close To Replacing Its Entire EU 2021 Trade Volumes In Developing Markets

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Examining Russia’s multilateral trade growth in 2022  

By Chris Devonshire-Ellis  

Russia’s bilateral trade with the European Union in 2021 reached €257 billion, with €158 billion of those being Russian exports to the bloc. With the Euro now at parity with the US dollar, the amounts traded can now be considered the same. But looking ahead to 2022, and the intense trade and financial sanctions placed upon Russia by the European Union, how has Russia managed to replace the EU trade values?

We can look at the 2021 and current 2022 data and see how Russia has been performing with an imagined absence of the EU’s total €257 billion in trade were that completely wiped out. (However, in reality, according to Eurostat, Russia-EU trade reached €171.4 billion in the 7M 2022, which if averaged at similar volumes for the entire year would give a total 2022 figure of €293.8 billion – an increase over 2021 levels). Nonetheless let’s see where Russia has also been increasing its trade volumes – and absorbing those trade sanctions. Bear in mind these are calculated using current 2022 trade precedence and expanded to predict the annual volumes and may not be completely accurate – but they will give an indication of the likely trends.

China

Russia’s bilateral trade with China in 2021 reached US$141 billion (same value as the Euro today), of which Russian exports to China reached US$68 billion. In the 10M 2022, according to the Chinese Customs Ministry, that trade had risen to US$153.9 billion with Russian exports to China reaching US$94.34 billion. Compounded over the full year, that would indicate an increase of trade of some US$184.6 billion, meaning an additional US$43.6 billion over 2021, with Russian exports rising to US$113.2 billion, an increase of US$18.86 billion.

Gains for Russia:

Bilateral Trade Volumes Up US$43.6 billion

Exports Up US$18.86 billion

India

India has been in the headlines recently due to a huge increase in Russian trade volumes, yet these come from a smaller base. The Indian Foreign Minister, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar is currently in Moscow holding additional trade talks. However, during 2021, Russia’s bilateral trade with India reached US$13 billion during the Indian fiscal year 2021/21 (India runs a March-April fiscal period) taking us to April 2022. Of this, according to COMTRADE, Russia’s exports amounted to US$9.13 billion. Since then, according to the Indian Ministry of Commerce & Industry, in the 5M period May-September 2022, Russia-India bilateral trade has reached US$18.2 billion, of which Russian exports amounted to about US$16.38 billion – India has been buying a lot of cheap oil from Russia.

Taken over a 12-month average, this would indicate annual trade volumes are currently running at approximately US$43.68 billion – an increase of US$25.48 billion, with Russian exports increasing to US$39.31 billion and an overall increase over 2021 of about US$30.18 billion.

Gains for Russia:

Bilateral Trade Volumes Up US$25.48 billion

Exports Up US$30.18 billion

The Eurasian Economic Union

The Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) is a trade bloc that includes Russia along with Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. In 2021, Russia-EAEU trade amounted to US$72.61 billion, of which Russian exports to the EAEU member countries amounted to US$45.3 billion.

By 7M 2022, that had increased to US$74.2 billion, meaning a compounded 2022 total could reach US$127.2 billion, with Russia’s exports achieving about US$99.6 billion of this. That will indicate increases of US$54.59 billion in volume and US$54.3 billion in exports over the year.

Gains for Russia:

Bilateral Trade Volumes Up US$54.59 billion

Exports Up US$54.3 billion

Turkiye

Turkiye’s bilateral trade with Russia in 2021 reached about US$30 billion, with some US$23 billion of this being Russian exports to Turkiye. The two countries engage in a great deal of energy trade, however Russia’s need for parallel imports is also feeding an increase in bilateral trade. In the 10M 2022, Turkiye-Russia bilateral trade has reached about US$60 billion, of which Russian exports to Turkiye amount to US$25.99 billion. Compounded over the whole of 2022, this would indicate a total trade volume of some US$72 billion and Russian exports of about US$31.19 billion, increases of US$42 billion and US$8.2 billion respectively.  

Gains for Russia:

Bilateral Trade Volumes Up US$42 billion

Exports Up US$8.2 billion

Others

Russia has also been expanding its bilateral trade with numerous other regions as well. We can take a brief look at these as follows:

Russia-Middle East 2021 trade volume: US$20 billion, 2022 YTD indicating increases of @30%

Russia-Africa 2021 trade volume: US$19 billion, 2022 YTD indicating increases of @50%

Russia-LatAm 2021 trade volume: US$12 billion, 2022 YTD indicating increases of @27%

Russia-ASEAN 2021 trade volumes: US$20 billion: 2022 YTD static growth, although increasing Vietnam trade. Likely to improve in 2023.

Collectively indicating other regional trade volume gains of about US$17 billion.

Russia’s bilateral trade has also been rapidly increasing with Pakistan, Iran, Japan, South Korea, and numerous other smaller countries – especially in Asia.

Summary

While the Western media has made a great deal of noise concerning Russian trade, and especially the impact of EU sanctions upon this, the reality is twofold: firstly that EU trade with Russia is likely to have increased during 2022, and that Russia has made significant strides during the year of supercharging its trade volumes elsewhere, with our basic estimates above indicating an overall bilateral trade increase for the year of an additional US$168 billion – largely due to increased volumes with the EAEU, China, India, and Turkiye, while on-going trade ties are also developing with the Middle East, Africa and to some extent, Latin America. This suggests that Russia will have been able to offset the total US$257 billion of EU 2021 bilateral trade by some US$168 billion in just ten months, assuming the EU decline occurred in February this year. By any accounts, that is an extraordinary achievement.

Russia’s overall global trade balance during 2022 will result in significant increases – just as the Eurozone, and potentially the United States – are slipping into recession. While the West may dismiss the Russian trade data as being largely driven by energy, the fact remains is that it is the EU that has the energy crisis and not Russia. Additional statistics point to the renewed interest in Russian energy from Asia as being sustainable – China LNG energy needs are expected to double by 2040, India’s by 2030, while ASEAN will require 35% more energy than today by 2030. Russia will be the provider.

Other, smaller issues will assist with certain bilateral trade growth related to sanctions, not least the 2023 growth in parallel imports – which will impact trade with the EAEU, and Turkiye in particular.

This means that Russian trade growth into Asia – including the entire Eurasian continent bar Western Europe – can be expected to remain a growth region for Russia-Asia trade well into 2023 and beyond. That means trade opportunities throughout the region – which are also likely to develop as financial trading alternatives are found to circumnavigate SWIFT disconnections. Asia regional and Russian exporters should be looking at where the openings are and conducting research.

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Russia Briefing is written and produced by Dezan Shira & Associates. During these uncertain times and sanctions imposition, our firm assists Russian companies relocate to Asia, and provides financial and sanctions compliance services to foreign companies operating in Russia. We also provide market research and advisory services to foreign exporters interested in Russia as the economy looks to replace Western sourced products. Please contact us at russia@dezshira.com or visit us at www.dezshira.com.