The Russian Federal Customs Service (FCS) has released data that shows for the first ten months of 2021, Russia’s total exports reached $388.4 billion, an increase of 42.8% over 2020. This has been due to a number of factors, not least being a Covid recovery, but also soft fundamentals as Russia has actively been seeking new export markets, and especially in Asia.
Russia‘s Top Five Trading Partners were responsible for 86.9% of all trade between January-October last year and were as follows;
Russia mainly supplies these countries with fuel and energy, metals, and chemical products. About 13% of exports go to CIS countries, predominantly Belarus and Kazakhstan (trade turnover of US$13.4 billion and US$11.4 billion, respectively). The main supplies to the CIS are raw materials, fuel, and foodstuffs.
The Top 6 Russian Exports by Product Value are as follows.
1. Fuel and energy – 53.8%
More than half of Russia’s exports (53.8%) are typically fuel and energy products. Their export value rose 51% over the same period last year.
Export volumes grew:
Natural gas: 5.7%
At the same time, supplies of motor gasoline decreased by 26.1%, and crude oil by 4.7%. The drop in oil exports was caused by the production limits under the OPEC+ agreement and increased domestic consumption.
2. Metals and metal products – 11.2%
Metals and metal products accounted for 11.2% of Russia’s export commodity structure. In the first half of the year, prices in this segment rose significantly.
The export value of metals increased by 87%, and the physical volume by 13%. Exports of ferrous metals went up (by 12.9%), including semi-finished products of iron and unalloyed steel (by 19.4%) and flat-rolled products of iron and unalloyed steel (by 15.1%).
Russia ranks fifth in the world in steel production, according to the World Steel Association (WSA). According to the WSA, global steel consumption as of end 2021 with show growth of 4.5%, and this trend will continue in 2022.
That said, supplies of copper and copper alloys fell by 19.6%, and unprocessed nickel by 52.5%. This was driven by the industrial downturn in China, the largest copper importer, and its increased use of own reserves in place of expensive imports.
3. Chemical products – 7.6%
The share of chemical products in Russa’s exports is 7.6% (up from 7.3% in 2020). With volume growth of 4.6%, the value of exports increased by 48.6% to US$29.3 billion. Unlike other sectors (such as the automotive industry) that stagnated last year, the chemical industry does not have a low base from which to show exponential growth.
The following products saw export growth:
Plastics and Plastic products: 17.4%
Soaps and detergents: 3.3%
Meanwhile, supplies of pharmaceutical products declined by 8.3%.
4. Food products – 7.2%
Food products and raw materials for their production made up 7.2% of Russia’s export commodity structure in the first ten months of 2021. In terms of value, exports increased by 21.1%, while physical volumes decreased by 8.1%. Most Russian food supplies went to the EU, Turkey, and China.
Grain remains the most important food export item, accounting for 30% of all supplies. Although in monetary terms food exports are at an all-time high due to soaring prices, export volumes of many products have dropped.
Exports of the following decreased:
Wheat and maize: 8.6%
Sunflower oil: 17.1%
Poultry meat: 0.4%
Supplies of fresh and frozen fish decreased by 16.2%. This is due to a significant fall in fish exports to China (the main importer of Russian fish), which tightened control over such products during the pandemic.
Exports of the following consumables increased:
Milk and cream: 22.1%
Cheese and curd: 19.9%
Fresh and frozen (non Pork) meat: 19.1%
Fresh and frozen pork: 14.1%
Russian exports of vodka, one of the countries best known consumables have been on the rise for a number of years. Russia’s share of global vodka exports is about 7%, significantly lower than Sweden and France with billion-dollar global advertising behind brands such as Absolut (Pernod Ricard) and Grey Goose (Bacardi). However, in the first ten months of 2021, Russia supplied 1.8597 billion decaliters of vodka, up 5.6% against 2020. In monetary terms, this represents a 12.3% increase; total revenue amounted to US$127.7 million.
5. Machinery and equipment – 6.3%
The machinery and equipment exports share of Russian exports is 6.3%. Compared to 2020, exports rose in monetary terms by 29.3%.
The export value of the following increased:
Electrical equipment: 40.4%
Mechanical equipment: 23.5%
Optical instruments and devices: 16.7%
Land transport (excluding rail): 10.1%
Automotive exports – passenger cars increased significantly (42.3%), amounting to US$1.159 billion. Exports of trucks went up by 11.5% (US$272.6 million). Exports in this segment are growing primarily because of the low base of the previous year, when they fell by more than a third. Russian auto manufacturers are also setting up overseas plants, the Ulyanovsk Automobile Plant has begun production in Angola, while GAZ began selling cars in Bulgaria. Most exports are to CIS countries.
6. Timber and pulp-and-paper products – 3.6%
Exports of timber and pulp-and-paper products in January–October 2021 had a 3.6% share of total exports. In monetary terms, exports grew by 37.7%, a result of the rise in prices this year. Although the physical volume remained at the same level, there were structural changes.
Exports of the following increased:
Unprocessed timber: 0.3%
Exports of the following decreased:
The decrease in lumber is directly linked to Russia placing bans of the export of unprocessed timber, wanting this industry to return to Russia instead of added value being created overseas.
The composition of Russian exports is changing and will continue to diversify to meet its new target export markets. By the end of 2021, Russia, via the Eurasian Economic Union had signed off free trade agreements with Vietnam, Iran, Singapore and Serbia, and has pending FTA to be concluded with Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Mongolia, South Korea, Thailand, Bosnia, Israel, Moldova, Egypt, UAE, Uzbekistan, and is beginning to make steps in South America. The entire ASEAN bloc is also considering an EAEU FTA, while Moscow is also targeting the African continent.