Occupying Northern Asia and a large part of Eastern Europe thus making Russia the world’s biggest area by geographic area, Russia shipped US$422.8 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2019. That dollar amount reflects 22.9% increase since 2015 but a -5.9% drop from 2018 to 2019.
Based on the average exchange rate for 2019, the Russian ruble has depreciated by -6.2% against the US dollar since 2015 and declined by -3.3% from 2018 to 2019. The Russian Federation’s weaker local currency make Russian exports paid for in stronger US dollars relatively less expensive for international buyers.
The latest available country-specific data shows that 63% of products exported from Russia were bought by importers in: China (13.4% of the global total), Netherlands (10.6%), Germany (6.6%), Turkey (5%), Belarus (4.9%), South Korea (3.9%), Italy (3.4%), Kazakhstan (3.3%), United Kingdom (3.1%), United States (3.1%), Poland (2.9%) and Japan (2.7%).
From a continental perspective, 53.5% of Russia’s exports by value were delivered to European countries while 38.2% were sold to importers in Asia. Russia shipped another 3.7% worth of goods to North America. Smaller percentages went to Africa (3.3%), Latin America (1.1%) excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean then Oceania (0.1%) led by New Zealand and Australia.
Given Russia’s population of 146.7 million people, its total $422.8 billion in 2019 exports translates to roughly $2,900 for every resident in the vast Eurasian country.
Russia’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Russian global shipments during 2019. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Russia.
- Mineral fuels including oil: US$220.8 billion (52.2% of total exports)
- Iron, steel: $18.1 billion (4.3%)
- Gems, precious metals: $15.3 billion (3.6%)
- Machinery including computers: $9 billion (2.1%)
- Wood: $8.6 billion (2%)
- Fertilizers: $8.4 billion (2%)
- Cereals: $7.9 billion (1.9%)
- Aluminum: $5.8 billion (1.4%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: $5.6 billion (1.3%)
- Copper: $5.2 billion (1.2%)
Russia’s top 10 exports accounted for almost three-quarters (72.1%) of the overall value of its global shipments.
Gems and precious metals represents the fastest grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 51.1% from 2018 to 2019. In second place for improving export sales was electrical machinery and equipment via a 13.2% gain. Russia’s only other increasing export category was fertilizers, up by 2.1%.
The leading decliner among Russia’s top 10 export categories was cereals thanks to a -24.3% drop year over year.
Note that the results listed above are at the categorized two-digit Harmonized Tariff System (HTS) code level. For a more granular view of exported goods at the four-digit HTS code level, see the section Searchable List of Russia’s Most Valuable Export Products further down near the bottom of this article.
Overall Russia generated a $179 billion trade surplus during 2019, a -15.2% decline from the $211.2 billion surplus one year earlier.
The following types of Russian product shipments represent positive net exports or a trade balance surplus. Investopedia defines net exports as the value of a country’s total exports minus the value of its total imports.
In a nutshell, net exports represent the amount by which foreign spending on a home country’s goods or services exceeds or lags the home country’s spending on foreign goods or services.
- Mineral fuels including oil: US$218.9 billion (Down by -7% since 2018)
- Gems, precious metals: $14.2 billion (Up by 52%)
- Iron, steel: $13.1 billion (Down by -27.4%)
- Fertilizers: $8.3 billion (Up by 2%)
- Wood: $8 billion (Down by -3.6%)
- Cereals: $7.6 billion (Down by -24.6%)
- Aluminum: $4.6 billion (Down by -12.8%)
- Copper: $4.2 billion (Down by -8.6%)
- Nickel: $2.9 billion (Up by 15.3%)
- Fish: $2.9 billion (Up by 15.6%)
Russia has highly positive net exports in the international trade of crude and refined oils, coal and petroleum gases. In turn, these cashflows indicate Russia’s strong competitive advantages under the mineral fuels including oil category.
Below are exports from Russia that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country Russia’s goods trail Russian importer spending on foreign products.
- Machinery including computers: -US$34.2 billion (Down by -0.5% since 2018)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$24.2 billion (Down by -3.2%)
- Vehicles: -$20 billion (Down by -2.4%)
- Pharmaceuticals: -$13.2 billion (Up by 35.1%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: -$6.8 billion (Up by 3.2%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: -$5.5 billion (Up by 9.4%)
- Fruits, nuts: -$5 billion (Up by 0.3%)
- Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): -$3.6 billion (Up by 1.4%)
- Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: -$3.3 billion (Up by 4.9%)
- Footwear: -$3.1 billion (Down by -2.4%)
Russia has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits for machinery including computers.
These cashflow deficiencies clearly indicate Russia’s competitive disadvantages in the international machinery market, but also represent key opportunities for Russia to improve its position in the global economy through focused innovations.
Russian Export Companies
Almost 30 Russian corporations rank among Forbes Global 2000. The following companies are selected examples of leading companies headquartered in Russia.
- Gazprom (oil, gas)
- Magnitogorsk Iron & Steel (iron, steel)
- Mechel (iron, steel)
- Severstal (iron, steel)
- Sistema (telecommunications)
- Surgutneftegas (oil, gas)
Wikipedia also lists large international trade players from Russia:
- Alrosa (diversified metals)
- LukOil (oil, gas)
- Norilsk Nickel (diversified metals)
- Novatek (oil, gas)
- Novolipetsk Steel (iron, steel)
- Rosneft (oil, gas)
- Tatneft (oil, gas)
- Transneft (oil and gas equipment)
- UC Rusal (aluminum)
- Uralkali (specialized chemicals)
Searchable List of Russia’s Most Valuable Export Products
The following searchable table displays 100 of the most in-demand goods shipped from the Russian Federation during 2019. Shown beside each product label is its total export value then the percentage increase or decrease since 2018.
|Rank||Russia's Export Product||2019 Value (US$)||Change|
|2||Processed petroleum oils||$66,887,411,000||-14.4%|
|3||Coal, solid fuels made from coal||$15,987,379,000||-6.1%|
|6||Iron or non-alloy steel products (semi-finished)||$6,090,983,000||-23.4%|
|11||Coal tar oils (high temperature distillation)||$4,458,175,000||+40.1%|
|12||Refined copper, unwrought alloys||$4,137,272,000||+0.2%|
|16||Whole fish (frozen)||$2,497,053,000||-2.8%|
|17||Hot-rolled iron or non-alloy steel products||$2,462,416,000||-28.4%|
|21||Iron ores, concentrates||$2,090,433,000||+30.8%|
|24||Crustaceans (including lobsters)||$1,582,383,000||+33.5%|
|28||Rubber tires (new)||$1,195,184,000||-1.8%|
|29||Iron or steel scrap||$1,172,660,000||-27.2%|
|30||Laminated wood (including plywood, veneer panels)||$1,141,303,000||-15.8%|
|33||Iron ore reduced products||$1,064,179,000||+1.8%|
|34||Nickel matte, oxide sinters||$1,038,835,000||+30.8%|
|35||Radar, radio communication items||$1,026,002,000||+257.5%|
|36||Chemical woodpulp (non-dissolving)||$1,009,050,000||-32.7%|
|39||Nuclear reactors, fuel elements||$889,575,000||-21.7%|
|41||Iron and steel tubes, pipes||$828,407,000||-34.2%|
|42||Precious metal ores, concentrates||$809,195,000||+34.3%|
|43||Iron or non-alloy steel bars, rods||$783,004,000||-20.9%|
|44||Iron or steel tubes, pipes||$780,450,000||-9.6%|
|46||Chocolate, other cocoa preparations||$715,273,000||+13.2%|
|47||Flat-rolled iron or non-alloy steel products (plated/coated)||$711,915,000||-2.2%|
|48||Miscellaneous carbon forms||$688,998,000||+1.2%|
|54||Uncoated kraft paper||$600,059,000||-17.2%|
|55||Lead ores, concentrates||$561,126,000||+2.2%|
|56||Phone system devices||$555,344,000||+14.4%|
|57||Newsprint (rolls or sheets)||$553,986,000||-15.2%|
|58||Miscellaneous iron and steel structures||$546,494,000||+12.9%|
|59||Medication mixes in dosage||$521,278,000||+5.2%|
|61||Cold-rolled iron or non-alloy steel products||$512,757,000||-31.2%|
|62||Flat-rolled other alloy steel products||$508,406,000||-21.8%|
|64||Miscellaneous iron or steel tubes, pipes||$474,635,000||-2.2%|
|65||Alloy steel bars, rods||$466,913,000||-21.9%|
|66||Coiled iron or non-alloy steel bars, rods||$460,903,000||-21.8%|
|69||Fuel wood, wood chips, sawdust||$427,575,000||+35%|
|70||Bread, biscuits, cakes, pastries||$422,989,000||+14.6%|
|71||Liquid crystal/laser/optical tools||$419,561,000||+12.2%|
|72||Uncoated paper for writing/printing||$419,084,000||-3.7%|
|73||Heterocyclics, nucleic acids||$417,595,000||-18.8%|
|74||Miscellaneous oil cakes||$414,834,000||+45.2%|
|75||Computers, optical readers||$413,557,000||+32.4%|
|79||Fish fillets, pieces||$392,001,000||+2.1%|
|80||Other measuring/testing machines||$389,611,000||+16.4%|
|81||Iron or non-alloy steel angles, shapes, sections||$382,947,000||-4%|
|83||Printed books, brochures||$370,068,000||+24.6%|
|85||Railway/streetcar carrier vans, wagons||$365,929,000||+5.8%|
|86||Particle board, other ligneous materials||$365,557,000||-2.3%|
|87||Special purpose vehicles||$365,031,000||-13.3%|
|88||Aluminum plates, sheets, strips||$359,247,000||-4.7%|
|89||Dried shelled vegetables||$358,849,000||+10.6%|
|93||Taps, valves, similar appliances||$343,240,000||+2.7%|
|94||Ligneous fiberboard including of wood||$339,955,000||-0.1%|
|97||Natural calcium/aluminum phosphates||$329,971,000||+3%|
|100||Miscellaneous iron or steel items||$312,951,000||+1.7%|
These 100 exported goods were worth a subtotal of US$328.3 billion or roughly 77.7% by value for all products exported from the Russian Federation during 2019.
In macroeconomic terms, Russia’s total exported goods represent 9.7% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2019 ($4.349 trillion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 9.7% for exports to overall GDP per PPP in 2019 compares to 10.7% one year earlier. This seems to indicate a relatively decreasing reliance on products sold on international markets for Russia’s total economic performance albeit based on a short timeframe.
Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. Russia’s average unemployment rate was 4.623% for 2019 down from 4.8% in 2018, according to the International Monetary Fund.
See also Russia’s Top 10 Imports, Russia Top Trading Partners, Top Russian Trade Balances and Russia’s Top 10 Major Export Companies
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook: Country Profiles. Accessed on March 13, 2020
Forbes 2016 Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on March 13, 2020
International Monetary Fund, Exchange Rates selected indicators (National Currency per U.S. dollar, period average). Accessed on March 13, 2020
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on March 13, 2020
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on March 13, 2020
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on March 13, 2020
Richest Country Reports, Key Statistics Powering Global Wealth. Accessed on December 20, 2019
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on March 13, 2020
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Russia. Accessed on March 13, 2020
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on March 13, 2020