Russian Non-CIS Imports Rise by 24.3 Percent in 2017

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Russia increased its import of goods from non-CIS countries in 2017 by 24.3 percent, year-on-year, to US$202.3 billion, the Russian Federal Customs Service said on Monday.
The total import of goods from non-CIS countries rose 11.3 percent, month-on-month, to US$20.7 billion in December 2017.

This is good news for businesses based in Europe and Asia, as it shows that the Russian economy is both expanding and developing pent-up demand for purchasing following the Western imposition of sanctions. CIS countries are the nations of the Commonwealth of Independent States, and include Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. The CIS nations have their own trading status, and some are also part of the Eurasian Economic Union. Trade among EAEU members has also significantly increased as witnessed in 2017.

Since having sanctions imposed by the West, Russia has been developing sourcing and procurement alternatives elsewhere, including in Asia. This has resulted in a surge of Russian bilateral trade with countries such as China, Singapore, Hong Kong, and most ASEAN nations.

In detail, the major commodities traded were as follows:

  • Imports of textiles and footwear surged 27 percent in December 2017 to US$1.1 billion.
  • Imports of food products and raw materials for their production grew by 16.6 percent to US$2.5 billion and products of the engineering industry grew by 12.3 percent to US$11.3 billion.
  • Imports of chemical products rose by 4.5%, to US$3.5 billion.
  • Imports rose 1.7 times for vegetables, 1.5 times for tobacco, 46.2 percent for vegetable oil, 45.1 percent for grain crops, 39.8 percent for fruits, 27.6 percent for fish, 23.3 percent for dairy products, and 22.2 percent for meat and byproducts.
  • Imports of strong and soft drinks dropped by 15.4 percent and sugar imports declined by 1.6 percent in value terms.
  • Imports of chemicals grew on account of the rising procurement of organic and non-organic chemicals by 15.1 percent and pharmaceuticals by 5.5 percent. Import declined in value terms by 2.5 percent for polymers and rubber and by 1.9 percent for soap and synthetic detergents. Imports of perfumery and cosmetics stayed flat in December 2017 on the monthly basis.
  • Procurement rose by 22.5 percent for textile garments, 1.8 times for footwear, 14.5 percent for knitted wear, 9.7 percent for knitted fabric, 6.7 percent for cotton, 3.9 percent for ready textile items, and 3.7 percent for textile materials. Imports declined by 8.5 percent for chemical fibers and stayed flat for chemical yarn.
  • Purchases grew 2.3 times for vessels and watercraft, 27.4 percent for aircraft, 21.5 percent for optical tools and devices, 20.7 percent for locomotive parts, and 19.5 percent for mechanical equipment. Electrical equipment imports dropped 6.5 percent and overland transport vehicle imports stayed flat.

Chris Devonshire-Ellis of Dezan Shira & Associates comments: “The latest Russian customs figures illustrate that the Russian economy is purchasing, and that opportunities are there for companies to sell to the Russian market. Asian based manufacturers should be examining double tax and other trade agreements with Russia and looking at how to establish a sales presence in the country. This trend will only increase once countries such as China, India, and Singapore have completed their free trade negotiations with the Eurasian Economic Union. The trade dynamics and fundamentals are there.”


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