Fall in imports is expected consequence of the ruble fall. With ruble down on the foreign exchange Russia can afford fewer imports.
Fall in exports is to a large degree a consequence of the lower oil price. Russia exports as much oil as ever but rakes in fewer dollars.
This article originally appeared at True Economics
Russian external trade figures for Q4 2014 show accelerating trend toward decline in both exports and imports.
According to the latest data, value of goods exports and imports in Q4 2014 fell almost 20% y/y, with December fall of 25% y/y. Russian imports from Ukraine were down some 50% and exports to Ukraine fell 70% y/y.
Oil price effects were pretty substantial as Urals price fell by almost 1/3rd in Q4 2014 compared to Q4 2013. But there was also a 7% decline in the volume of oil exports, as well as ca 30% drop in gas exports by volume. Offsetting these, petroleum products exports were up 9% y/y and other commodities exports held up pretty well and even rose.
Q4 2014 imports of machinery and transport equipment were down some 20% y/y, in line with the decline in imports of food, textiles and passenger cars.
Overall, in 2014, oil and gas accounted for roughly 70% of all Russian exports, largely unchanged on 2013. Overall value of goods exports in 2014 was down 6% (USD32 billion) on 2013, while goods imports fell 10% (just over USD22 billion).
Meanwhile, Russian trade balance posted 3.7% higher surplus for 2014, rising to USD188.66 billion compared to 2013 level of USD181.94 billion, although the surplus was still short of 2011 peak of USD196.85 billion.
Total exports reached USD496.66 billion in 2014, which is some 5.1% lower than in 2013, while total value of imports was down 9.8% y/y (to USD341.34 billion). Imports finished 2014 at their lowest level in four years. These are figures from the Central Bank of Russia.
Based on Russian Customs data, exports registered with Customs stood at USD496.94 billion in 2014, down 5.8% y/y and imports were USD314.97 billion, down 9.2% y/y. Trade balance stood at USD210.96 billion, down 0.6%. Trade balance has deteriorated in November-December 2014 very significantly, down 24.5% and 25.2% y/y, respectively. Only comparable level of deterioration was marked in February 2014 when Russian trade balance fell 23.7% y/y and in September, when it fell 24.5%.
And a ‘wake up and smell the roses’ moment – January data (preliminary and covering main categories of goods) for Russian imports from the trading partners excluding CIS shows imports of goods falling a massive 40.8% y/y to USD9.855 billion in January 2015, compared to USD16.65 billion in January 2014. Food imports are down 41.9%, Chemicals imports are down 35.3%, Textiles and Clothing imports are down 39.2%, Machinery and Equipment imports are down 44.6%.