Russia-EU – international trade in goods statistics
Data extracted in April 2018.
Planned article update: April 2019
Imports, exports and trade balance in goods between the EU and Russia, 2008-2017
This article provides a picture of the international trade in goods between the European Union (EU) and Russia. It analyses the type of goods exchanged between the two economies and the shares of each EU Member State in those exchanges.
This article is part of an online publication providing recent statistics on international trade in goods, covering information on the EU's main partners, main products traded, specific characteristics of trade as well as background information.
- In 2016, Russia was the 12th largest exporter of goods in the world with a share of 2.3 % of world exports and the 17th largest importer of goods with a share of 1.4 % of world imports.
- In 2017, Russia was the fourth largest partner for EU imports of goods and the third largest partner for EU exports of goods.
- The EU trade in goods balance with Russia, which has been in deficit from 2008 to 2017, peaked at EUR 93 billion in 2011 but dropped to EUR 59 billion in 2017.
- Manufactured goods dominate the exports of goods from the EU to Russia with a share of almost 90 %, while more than two thirds of the EU imports of goods from Russia are energy products.
- In 2017 among EU Member States, Germany was the largest importer of goods (EUR 29 billion) from and exporter of goods (EUR 26 billion) to Russia.
- The Netherlands had the largest trade in goods deficit with Russia (EUR 16 billion), while Latvia (EUR 642 million), Slovenia (EUR 545 million) and the Czech Republic (EUR 445 million) had the largest trade in goods surpluses.
EU and Russia in world trade in goods
The four largest exporters of goods account for almost half of the world exports (Figure 1a). The largest is China (17 %) followed by the EU (16 %), the United States (12 %) and Japan (5 %). The same four also account for almost half of the world imports of goods but in a different order. Here the United States (18 %) leads, followed by the EU (15 %), China (12 %) and Japan (5 %). Figure 1b has more detail showing that with EUR 258 billion, Russia is the 12th largest exporter of goods, placed between the United Arab Emirates (EUR 270 billion) and Taiwan (EUR 253 billion). In imports of goods, Russia (EUR 165 billion) is in 17th place, between Australia (EUR 171 billion) and Malaysia (EUR 152 billion).
The evolution of trade in goods in the EU and Russia over the period 2007-2016 is the focus of Figure 2. Russian exports are heavily influenced by energy prices on world markets and consequently tend to fluctuate more than EU exports. Trade flows of both economies were at a low in 2009 due to the financial crisis but have picked up since then. Russian exports and imports peaked in 2012 but consequently both fell. Russian imports stabilised in 2016 while exports continued to fall. Consequently, Russia's cover ratio fell below 160 % in 2016 for the first time since 2007. It is, however, still much higher than the EU's cover ratio which has been a little over 100 % since 2013.
EU trade in goods deficit with Russia halved since 2011
In 2017, Russia had a share of 4.6 % in extra-EU exports of goods (EUR 86 billion) and 7.8 % in extra-EU imports of goods (EUR 145 billion), as presented in Figure 3. This meant it was the fourth largest partner for exports from the EU, placed between Switzerland (8.0 %) and Turkey (4.5 %). In EU-imports, Russia held the third position between the United States (13.8 %) and Switzerland (5.9 %).
The EU recorded a trade in goods deficit with Russia from 2008 to 2017 (see Figure 4). In this time span, trade between the two economies hit a low in 2009, but quickly recovered, peaking in 2012 after which there was a decline until 2016 when imports from Russia fell below the 2009 level. Because imports declined more strongly than exports, the EU's trade deficit was halved from its peak of EUR 93 billion in 2011 to EUR 47 billion in 2016. In 2017 the deficit increased to EUR 59 billion.
EU imports of goods from Russia dominated by energy products
When breaking down imports and exports by SITC groups, the main categories driving exports to Russia are 'Machinery and vehicles’, 'Chemicals’ and 'Other manufactured goods’. Together these manufactured goods accounted for around 90 % of the EU exports in 2017 (see Figure 5). In contrast, in imports from Russia, manufactured goods accounted for only one sixth of total imports, while over three quarters of imports were 'Energy' products. More detailed statistics on trade in energy products can be found in the artilce on EU imports of energy products.
The evolution of EU imports and exports by SITC group since 2007 is shown in Figure 6. The EU has trade surpluses in 'Machinery and vehicles’, 'Chemicals', 'Other manufactured goods' and 'Food & drink' which could not offset the large deficit in 'Energy'. The EU also had small deficits in 'Raw materials' and 'Other goods'.
Petroleum oil is the product most traded with Russia
More details about the goods exchanged between the EU and Russia are given in Figure 7, showing the top 20 traded goods at a more detailed level (by SITC level 3). Those top 20 goods covered around 74 % of imports but only 32 % of exports. Seven of the top 20 products were in the 'Machinery and vehicles' group and five in 'Other manufactured goods'. However, non of these appeared in the top 5 in which there were four energy related products (almost exclusively imports) and medicaments (almost all exports).
Another interesting way to look at data is to investigate the export/import ratio of traded goods, in order to better identify the direction taken by flows and specialisation between the two areas. These ratios can be found in the right margin of Figure 7. Most of these cover ratios are either very small or very large indicating that specialisation mainly takes place on this level of product break down and not on a more detailed level.
Germany is trading most with Russia
Figure 8a shows EU Member States' imports of goods from Russia and the share of the partner Russia in national extra-EU imports of goods in 2017. Figure 8b provides similar information but concerning EU Member States' exports of goods to Russia.
There are four Member States whose imports of goods from Russia were higher than EUR 10 billion: Germany (EUR 29 billion), the Netherlands (EUR 22 billion), Poland (EUR 13 billion) and Italy (EUR 12 billion). Together they accounted for a little over half of all EU imports from Russia. For several countries in the east of the EU, Russia was an important origin of extra-EU imports of goods: Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Finland all had shares of 20 % or more for Russia in their extra-EU imports.
Germany stood out as the largest exporter of goods to Russia with EUR 25 billion, equivalent to 30 % of all EU exports to Russia. The three Baltic states: Lativa (42 %), Lithuania (36 %) and Estonia (26 %) had high shares of their extra-EU exports of goods to Russia.
All but six Member States had a trade in goods deficit with Russia in 2017 (Figure 8c), with the highest in the Netherlands (EUR 16 billion). The six Member States with trade in goods surpluses were Latvia (EUR 642 million), Slovenia (EUR 545 million), the Czech Republic (EUR 445 million), Lithuania (EUR 208 million), Ireland (EUR 192 million) and Luxembourg (EUR 139 million).
Source data for tables and graphs
EU data is taken from Eurostat's COMEXT database. COMEXT is the reference database for international trade in goods. It provides access not only to both recent and historical data from the EU Member States but also to statistics of a significant number of third countries. International trade aggregated and detailed statistics disseminated via the Eurostat website are compiled from COMEXT data according to a monthly process.
Data are collected by the competent national authorities of the Member States and compiled according to a harmonised methodology established by EU regulations before transmission to Eurostat. For extra-EU trade, the statistical information is mainly provided by the traders on the basis of customs declarations.
EU data are compiled according to Community guidelines and may, therefore, differ from national data published by the Member States. Statistics on extra-EU trade are calculated as the sum of trade of each of the 28 EU Member States with countries outside the EU. In other words, the EU is considered as a single trading entity and trade flows are measured into and out of the area, but not within it.
Data for the other major traders are taken from the Comtrade database of the United Nations. Data availability differs among countries, therefore Figure 1 shows the latest common available year for all the main traders. For the calculation of shares world trade is defined as the sum of EU trade with non-EU countries (source: Eurostat) plus the international trade of non-EU countries (source: IMF Dots database).
According to EU concepts and definitions, extra-EU trade statistics (trade between EU Member States and non-EU countries) do not record exchanges involving goods in transit, placed in a customs warehouse or given temporary admission (for trade fairs, temporary exhibitions, tests, etc.). This is known as 'special trade’. The partner is the country of final destination of the goods for exports and the country of origin for imports.
Information on commodities exported and imported is presented according to the Standard international trade classification (SITC). A full description is available from Eurostat’s classification server RAMON.
Unit of measure
Trade values are expressed in millions or billions (109) of euros. They correspond to the statistical value, i.e. to the amount which would be invoiced in case of sale or purchase at the national border of the reporting country. It is called a FOB value (free on board) for exports and a CIF value (cost, insurance, freight) for imports.
Trade is an important indicator of Europe’s prosperity and place in the world. The bloc is deeply integrated into global markets both for the products it sources and the exports it sells. The EU trade policy is an important element of the external dimension of the 'Europe 2020 strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth’ and is one of the main pillars of the EU’s relations with the rest of the world.
Because the 28 EU Member States share a single market and a single external border, they also have a single trade policy. EU Member States speak and negotiate collectively, both in the World Trade Organization, where the rules of international trade are agreed and enforced, and with individual trading partners. This common policy enables them to speak with one voice in trade negotiations, maximising their impact in such negotiations. This is even more important in a globalised world in which economies tend to cluster together in regional groups.
The openness of the EU’s trade regime has meant that the EU is the biggest player on the global trading scene and remains a good region to do business with. Thanks to the ease of modern transport and communications, it is now easier to produce, buy and sell goods around the world which gives European companies of every size the potential to trade outside Europe.
- International trade in goods (t_ext_go), see:
- International trade in goods - long-term indicators (t_ext_go_lti)
- International trade in goods - short-term indicators (t_ext_go_sti)
- International trade in goods (ext_go), see:
- International trade in goods - aggregated data (ext_go_agg)
- International trade in goods - long-term indicators (ext_go_lti)
- International trade in goods - short-term indicators (ext_go_sti)
- International trade in goods - detailed data (detail)
- EU trade since 1988 by SITC (DS-018995)
- International trade in goods statistics - background
- International trade in goods (ESMS metadata file — ext_go_esms)
- User guide on European statistics on international trade in goods