Russia shipped US$449.3 billion worth of products around the globe in 2018. That figure represents roughly 2.6% of overall global exports estimated at $17.546 trillion one year earlier.
Officially named the Russian Federation, Russia is the world’s largest country in terms of geographic area. It shares land or maritime borders with 16 other European or Asian countries.
Assuming a continental perspective, 54.5% of Russian exported goods by value were delivered to fellow European countries while 36.8% were sold to Asian importers.
Smaller percentages were shipped to Africa (3.8%), North America (3.4%) and Latin America (1.2%) excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean.
Russia’s Top Trading Partners
Below is a list showcasing 15 of Russia’s top trading partners in terms of export sales, revealing which countries imported the most Russian shipments by dollar value during 2018. Also shown is each import country’s percentage consumption of total Russian exports.
- China: US$56 billion (12.5% of total Russian exports)
- Netherlands: $43.5 billion (9.7%)
- Germany: $34.1 billion (7.6%)
- Belarus: $21.8 billion (4.9%)
- Turkey: $21.3 billion (4.8%)
- South Korea: $17.8 billion (4%)
- Poland: $16.5 billion (3.7%)
- Italy: $16.4 billion (3.7%)
- Kazakhstan: $12.9 billion (2.9%)
- United States: $12.5 billion (2.8%)
- Japan: $12.5 billion (2.8%)
- Finland: $11.4 billion (2.5%)
- United Kingdom: $9.8 billion (2.2%)
- Ukraine: $9.5 billion (2.1%)
- Belgium: $9.2 billion (2%)
Over two-thirds (68%) of Russian exports in 2018 were delivered to the above 15 trade partners.
Increasing their import purchases from Russia at the fastest pace from 2017 to 2018 were: Germany (up by 120.1%), United Kingdom (up by 73%), Italy (up by 67.3%), Turkey (up by 65.1%) and Poland (up by 56.5%).
The most modest increase in the consumption of Russian exports year over year were posted by Kazakhstan thanks to its relatively tepid 8.4% uptick.
As defined by Investopedia, a country whose total value of all imported goods is higher than its value of all exports is said to have a negative trade balance or deficit.
It would be unrealistic for any exporting nation to expect across-the-board positive trade balances with all its importing partners. Similarly, that export country doesn’t necessarily post a negative trade balance with each individual partner with which it exchanges exports and imports.
Russia incurred the highest trade deficits with the following countries:
- France:- US$1.8 billion (country-specific trade deficit in 2018)
- Vietnam: -$1.2 billion
- Thailand: -$1.1 billion
- Spain: -$1 billion
- Ecuador: -$933 million
- Chile: -$931.8 million
- Paraguay: -$856.3 million
- Indonesia: -$847.3 million
- Ireland: -$650.8 million
- Slovenia: -$583.8 million
Among Russia’s trading partners that cause the greatest negative trade balances, Russian deficits with Paraguay (up 41.5%), Chile (up 25%) and Spain (up 18.6%) grew from 2017 to 2018.
These cashflow deficiencies clearly indicate Russia’s competitive disadvantages with the above countries, but also represent key opportunities for Russia to develop country-specific strategies to strengthen its overall position in international trade.
The Russian Federation generated an overall $211.2 billion trade surplus during 2018, a 61.3% uptick from the $130.9 billion surplus one year earlier.
Based on Investopedia’s definition of net importer, a country whose total value of all imported goods is lower than its value of all exports is said to have a positive trade balance or surplus.
Russia incurred the highest trade surpluses with the following countries:
- Netherlands: US$39.8 billion (country-specific trade surplus in 2018)
- Turkey: $17.1 billion
- Poland: $11.4 billion
- South Korea: $10.8 billion
- Belarus: $9.6 billion
- Germany: $8.6 billion
- Finland: $8 billion
- Kazakhstan: $7.6 billion
- Belgium: $6.7 billion
- Egypt: $6.6 billion
Among Russia’s trading partners that generate the greatest positive trade balances, Russian surpluses with South Korea (up 108.9%), Belarus (up 98.9%) and Egypt (up 96%) grew at the fastest percentage increases from 2017 to 2018. In addition, Russian trade with Germany went from a -$7.2 billion deficit in 2017 to an $8.6 billion surplus in the most recent period.
These positive cashflow streams clearly indicate Russia’s competitive advantages with the above countries, but also represent key opportunities for Russia to develop country-specific strategies to optimize its overall position in international trade.
Companies Servicing Russian Trading Partners
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)
According to the Russian Exporters Database provided by the Ministry of Economic Development of the Russian Federation, the following are also examples of established companies that ship products from Russia to its trading partners around the globe. Shown within parenthesis is the product category that the Russian business specializes in.
- ALROSA (diamonds, jewelry)
- Finco LLC (drones for aerial photos, video monitoring)
- FPK Saturn LLC (copper, zinc, aluminum, tin)
- GUP Komdragmetall RSJA (gold)
- JSC Mir Upakovki (plastic packaging)
- OJSC TAIF-NK (refined petroleum oils)
- Omsky Zavod Trubnoy Izolyatsy (tubes, pipes, fittings)
- Souz Co Ltd (fertilizers, chemicals)
- Soyuz Agro, LLC (wheat, barley, flax)
- SpecPromTech (iron, steel, other metals)
See also Russia’s Top 10 Imports, Russia’s Top 10 Exports, Top Russian Trade Balances and Russia’s Top 10 Major Export Companies
The World Factbook, Field Listing: Imports – Commodities, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on March 4, 2018
Trade Map, International Trade Centre. Accessed on February 25, 2019
Investopedia, Net Importer Definition. Accessed on February 25, 2019
Forbes 2015 Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on February 25, 2019
Integrated Foreign Economic Information Portal, Russian Exporters Database. Accessed on February 25, 2019