Russia-EU - international trade of main product groups
Data extracted in January 2022
Planned article update: 3 March 2023
This article provides a picture of the international trade of main product groups exchanged between the European Union (EU) and Russia. There is also a more general article on trade with Russia available. These articles are part of an online publication providing recent statistics on international trade in goods, covering information on the EU's main partners, main goods traded, specific characteristics of trade as well as background information.
EU trade with Russia has been strongly affected since the start of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. The EU has imposed a number of import and export restrictions on several products, with more visible effects in the latest months. The value of exports to Russia fell by 56 % between February 2022 and March 2022, while imports from Russia rose by 3 % in these months due to a sharp increase of the price of energy products and raw materials (see Figure 1). Since then imports from Russia have declined steadily and in September 2022 they had fallen by 31 % compared with February 2022. These developments caused the EU's trade deficit with Russia to peak in March 2022 at €18.1 billion. However, by September 2022 the deficit stood at €10.5 billion.
When looking at the changes in Russia's shares in extra-EU trade, both exports and imports dropped considerably below the levels prior to Russia's invasion. Figure 2 shows that Russia's share in the extra-EU exports fell from 4.0 % in February 2022 to 1.8 % in September 2022. Over the same period extra-EU imports from Russia fell from 9.5 % to 5.3 %.
Key product groups imported by the EU from Russia
Figure 3 focuses on six products imported from Russia, selected because of their relevance with respect to total extra-EU imports in terms of share or in terms of their absolute value. It compares the average share for the cumulated second and third quarter of 2022, with the average of the same quarters between 2017 and 2021, showing that the share in value of Russia in EU imports declined strongly for coal, natural gas, petroleum oil, fertilisers and iron & steel, while for nickel the share increased slightly.
The general tendency for these products are strongly increasing imports between January 2021 and February 2022, due to increased demand coming out of the COVID-19 crisis, which also led to increasing prices. Following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the volume of imports initially dropped but the value of imports remained high as prices increased. However, in the third quarter of 2022 a combination of falling demand, stabilising prices and sanctions caused the value of imports from Russia to decline. This is also evident from the falling share for Russia in extra-EU imports of these products as Russia is gradually replaced by other trade partners.
For each of these products the development of value, volume and unit value for imports, since January 2021 is shown in the following section. In addition the shares in imports by partner are shown for the full year 2021 and for the third quarters of 2022. This section uses non-seasonally adjusted data.
EU imports of coal
EU imports of coal from Russia grew considerably between January 2021 and May 2022 (+360 percentage points (pp)) due to a sharp increase of prices in this period (see Figure 4). After Russia's invasion of Ukraine, from August 2022, the fifth package of EU sanctions imposed a prohibition to purchase, import or transfer coal and other solid fossil fuels into the EU if they originate in Russia or are exported from Russia. As a consequence of the ban, the imports of coal have fallen sharply to almost zero in September 2022.
Russia's share in extra-EU imports of coal dropped from 45 % in the year 2021 to 13 % in the third quarter of 2022 (see Figure 5). In the same period the shares of Columbia and South Africa increased significantly, by 8 pp and 11 pp respectively.
EU imports natural gas
EU imports of natural gas from Russia increased considerably between January 2021 and March 2022 as prices increased sharply (see Figure 6). In the light of several packages of sanctions imposed by the European Union, the supply of natural gas from Russia steadily decreased with a significant drop from April to June 2022. The increase of imports between July to September 2022 was thus due to the increase in prices. Indexed at 100 in January 2021, the volume stood at 70 % in March 2022 before falling to 44 % in September 2022.
Russia's share in EU imports of natural gas dropped from 36 % in 2021 to 18 % in the third quarter of 2022 (see Figure 7). The highest increases in share were observed for the United States (from 11 % to 20 %) and the United Kingdom (from 6 % to 12 %).
EU imports of nickel
Imports of nickel were not affected by a specific ban. Measured in value, EU imports of nickel from Russia more than doubled between January 2021 and March 2022 due to increasing demand and prices (see Figure 8). In September 2022 they were 56 pp higher than in January 2021, although the volume in September 2022 was only 2 pp below the value in January 2021.
Russia's share in EU imports of nickel remained almost stable between 2021 and the third quarter of 2022 (see Figure 9). Canada observed the highest increase in this period (+3 pp), while Australia had the largest decrease (-3 pp).
EU imports of petroleum oil
EU imports of petroleum oil (combined crude and non-crude) from Russia in trade value more than doubled between January 2021 and February 2022 due to increasing prices (see Figure 10). Russia was the largest provider of petroleum oils to the EU in 2021. After Russia's invasion, a major diversion in the trade of petroleum oil took place. Evidence of this became visible in the second and especially in the third quarter of 2022. From July to September there was a drop of 55 pp in the value of EU imports from Russia, as both prices and volumes fell.
The share of Russia was equal to 14 % in the third quarter of 2022, a decrease of 11 pp compared with 2021 (see Figure 11). The shares of Saudi Arabia (+4 pp) and the United States (+3 pp) both increased in the third quarter of 2022 compared with 2021.
EU imports of fertilisers
The value of the EU's imports of fertilisers from Russia almost tripled between January 2021 and January 2022, mostly as a result of rising prices (see Figure 12). Between February 2022 and September 2022 there were strong fluctuations in imports. In September the value index was 50 pp above the level of January 2021 while in this same period the volume index had fallen 45 pp.
Russia's share in extra-EU imports of fertilisers dropped from 29 % in 2021 to 17 % in the third quarter of 2022 (see Figure 13). In this period the shares of Egypt (+3 pp) and Algeria (+2 pp) both increased. Belarus and Ukraine were among the top six partners in 2021 but dropped out of the top six in the third quarter of 2022.
EU imports of iron & steel
The value of the EU's imports of iron & steel from Russia more than doubled between January 2021 and February 2022 due to rising prices (see Figure 14). Subsequently, a drop in volume was observed in the second quarter of 2022 because of the sanctions on several products. The values imported between July and September 2022 remained almost stable.
Russia's share in extra-EU imports of iron & steel dropped significantly (-11 pp) in the third quarter of 2022 compared with 2021 (see Figure 15). China became the largest provider with a share of 13 %, while Ukraine was no longer among the top 6 partners.
Main product groups in EU exports to Russia
Russia was an important partner for EU exports of a number of products. Figure 16 shows the product groups with the highest share for Russia in EU exports. For seven of these ten products, this share dropped in the cumulated second and third quarter of 2022. 'Coffee, tea, mate and spices', 'cocoa and its preparations' and 'oil seeds and related products' were the three product groups where the share increased.
The EU also exported a wide range of products to Russia. In value terms, the largest product groups exported to Russia in the third quarter of 2022 were machinery (€4 820 million), pharmaceuticals (€2 427 million), vehicles (€2 181 million), electrical machinery (€2 101 million) and plastics (€1 025 million) - see Table 1. The weight of these exports is shown in Table 2.
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 non-EU 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 EU 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 EU 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 27 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.
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.
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 an 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 one of the main pillars of the EU's relations with the rest of the world.
Because the 27 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 largest 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.
Direct access to
- 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