Russia’s Top 10 Exports

Russia’s Top 10 Exports


Occupying Northern Asia and a large part of Eastern Europe making the Russian Federation the world’s biggest area by geographic area, Russia shipped US$357.1 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2017. That dollar amount for Russian exports reflects a -32.3% drop since 2013 but a 25.1% improvement from 2016 to 2017.

Based on estimates from the Central Intelligence Agency’s World Factbook, Russia’s exported goods plus services represent 25.6% of total Russian economic output or Gross Domestic Product. The analysis below focuses on exported products only.

From a continental perspective, 54.1% of Russian exports by value were delivered to European countries while 36.7% were sold to Asian importers. Russia shipped another 4% worth of goods to Africa with 3.6% going to North America.

Given Russia’s population of 142.3 million people, its total $357.1 billion in 2017 exports translates to roughly $2,500 for every resident in the vast Eurasian country.

Russia’s unemployment rate was 5.2% as of January 2018 down from 5.6% one year earlier, according to Trading Economics.

Russia’s Top 10 Exports

Top 10

The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Russian global shipments during 2017. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Russia.

At the more granular four-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level, the most valuable Russian export product is crude oil followed by refined petroleum oils.

  1. Mineral fuels including oil: US$173.3 billion (48.5% of total exports)
  2. Iron, steel: $18.8 billion (5.3%)
  3. Gems, precious metals: $11 billion (3.1%)
  4. Machinery including computers: $8.5 billion (2.4%)
  5. Wood: $7.9 billion (2.2%)
  6. Cereals: $7.5 billion (2.1%)
  7. Fertilizers: $7.2 billion (2%)
  8. Aluminum: $6.7 billion (1.9%)
  9. Copper: $4.7 billion (1.3%)
  10. Electrical machinery, equipment: $4.3 billion (1.2%)

Russia’s top 10 exports accounted for 70% of the overall value of its global shipments.

Copper was the fastest-growing among the top 10 export categories, up 42.2% from 2016 to 2017.

In second place for improving export sales was Russian cereals which was up 34.3%, led by higher international sales of wheat, barley and corn.

Close behind, Russia’s shipments of iron and steel posted the third-fastest gain in value up 32.9%.

Up 6.7%, electrical machinery and equipment posted the smallest increase among Russia’s top 10 export categories.


Overall Russia generated a $130.1 billion trade surplus during 2017–a 26% uptick from the $103.2 billion surplus for 2016.

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.

  1. Mineral fuels including oil: US$171.4 billion (Up by 28.6% since 2016)
  2. Iron, steel: $13.9 billion (Up by 25.7%)
  3. Gems, precious metals: $10.5 billion (Up by 23.7%)
  4. Wood: $7.2 billion (Up by 22.3%)
  5. Cereals: $7.2 billion (Up by 36.2%)
  6. Fertilizers: $7.1 billion (Up by 8%)
  7. Aluminum: $5.4 billion (Up by 8%)
  8. Copper: $3.9 billion (Up by 37.6%)
  9. Nickel: $2 billion (Up by 1.5%)
  10. Fish: $1.9 billion (Up by 14.3%)

Russia has highly positive net exports in the international trade of both crude and refined oil. 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.

  1. Machinery including computers: -US$36.7 billion (Up by 28.7% since 2016)
  2. Electrical machinery, equipment: -$22.4 billion (Up by 28.4%)
  3. Vehicles: -$17.9 billion (Up by 37.3%)
  4. Pharmaceuticals: -$10.1 billion (Up by 22.2%)
  5. Plastics, plastic articles: -$6 billion (Up by 12.5%)
  6. Fruits, nuts: -$4.6 billion (Up by 21.9%)
  7. Optical, technical, medical apparatus: -$4.3 billion (Up by 15.6%)
  8. Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): -$3.2 billion (Up by 25.3%)
  9. Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: -$3 billion (Up by 23.7%)
  10. Footwear: -$3 billion (Up by 37.4%)

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

Twenty-eight 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)

Russia’s capital city is Moscow.

Please note that the results listed above are at the 2-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level.

See also Russia’s Top 10 Major Export Companies, Russia’s Top 10 Imports, Russia Top Trading Partners, Top Russian Trade Balances, Highest Value Russian Export Products and Capital Facts for Moscow, Russia

Research Sources:
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on March 4, 2018

The World Factbook, Country Profiles, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on March 4, 2018

Trade Map, International Trade Centre. Accessed on March 4, 2018

Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on March 4, 2018

Wikipedia, List of Companies of Russia. Accessed on March 4, 2018

Forbes 2015 Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on March 4, 2018