Russia’s 5 biggest imports by dollar value are smartphones, automobile parts or accessories, medications, cars and computers..
Based on the average exchange rate for 2021, the Russian ruble has depreciated by -26.2% against the US dollar since 2017 and declined by -2.1% from 2020 to 2021. The Russian Federation’s weaker local currency make its imports paid for in stronger US dollars relatively more expensive when converted starting from Russian rubles.
From a continental perspective, 47% of Russia’s total imports by value in 2021 were purchased from countries in Asia. Fellow European trade partners generated 42.5% of import sales to Russia while 6.7% worth originated from North America.
Smaller percentages came from Latin America (2.5%) excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean, Africa (1%) and Oceania (0.3%) led by Australia and New Zealand.
Given Russia ‘s population of 146.1 million people, its total $293.4 billion in 2021 imports translates to roughly $2,000 in yearly product demand from every person in the vast Eurasian country. That metric is higher than the average $1,600 one year earlier in 2020.
Russia’s Top 10 Imports
The following product groups represent the highest dollar value in Russia’s import purchases during 2021. Also shown is the percentage share each product category represents in terms of overall imports into Russia.
- Machinery including computers: US$54.3 billion (18.5% of total imports)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: $36.8 billion (12.5%)
- Vehicles: $26.8 billion (9.1%)
- Pharmaceuticals: $13.8 billion (4.7%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: $12.6 billion (4.3%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $8.7 billion (3%)
- Articles of iron or steel: $6.4 billion (2.2%)
- Iron, steel: $5.9 billion (2%)
- Organic chemicals: $5.8 billion (2%)
- Fruits, nuts: $5.4 billion (1.8%)
Russia’s top 10 imports accounted for roughly three-fifths (60.1%) of the overall value of its product purchases from other countries.
The iron and steel category represents the fastest growing Russian import group, up 58.8% from 2020 to 2021. In second place were imported vehicles via its 45.3% expansion, trailed by plastics as a material plus items made from plastic thanks to a 34.9% increase.
The most modest gain among Russia’s top 10 import categories year over year was the 4.3% improvement for fruits and nuts.
Please note that the results listed above are at the 2-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level. Information presented under the adjacent virtual folder tabs is at the more granular 4-digit level.
In 2021, Russian importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of machinery including computers.
- Computers, optical readers: US$7.8 billion (up 24.6% from 2020)
- Temperature-change machines: $3.8 billion (up 31.7%)
- Heavy machinery (bulldozers, excavators, road rollers): $2.8 billion (up 85.5%)
- Taps, valves, similar appliances: $2.6 billion (up 12.7%)
- Miscellaneous machinery: $2.1 billion (up 23.4%)
- Centrifuges, filters and purifiers: $2 billion (up 17.4%)
- Liquid pumps and elevators: $1.84 billion (up 20.2%)
- Air or vacuum pumps: $1.75 billion (up 18.5%)
- Turbo-jets: $1.51 billion (up 167.2%)
- Piston engines: $1.5 billion (up 19.3%)
Among these import subcategories, Russian purchases of turbo-jets (up 167.2%), heavy machinery including bulldozers, excavators and road rollers (up 85.5%) then temperature-change machines (up 31.7%) grew at the fastest pace from 2020 to 2021.
These amounts and the percentage gains within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of imported machinery among Russian businesses and consumers.
In 2021, Russian importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of electrical products including consumer electronics.
- Phone devices including smartphones: US$11.4 billion (up 22.2% from 2020)
- Electric water heaters, hair dryers: $2.2 billion (up 25.5%)
- Integrated circuits/microassemblies: $1.6 billion (up 24.0%)
- Lower-voltage switches, fuses: $1.54 billion (up 19.9%)
- TV receivers/monitors/projectors: $1.53 billion (up 26.3%)
- Electrical converters/power units: $1.5 billion (up 18.5%)
- TV/radio/radar device parts: $1.48 billion (up 22.2%)
- Electrical/optical circuit boards, panels: $1.4 billion (up 12.8%)
- Insulated wire/cable: $1.3 billion (up 16.6%)
- Electric motors, generators: $1 billion (up 14.4%)
Among these import subcategories, Russian purchases of television receivers, monitors and projectors (up 26.3%), electric water heaters or hair dryers (up 25.5%) then integrated circuits and microassemblies (up 24%) grew at the fastest pace from 2020 to 2021.
These amounts and the percentage gain within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of imported electronics among Russian businesses and consumers.
In 2021, Russian importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of vehicles.
- Automobile parts/accessories: US$10.7 billion (up 39.3% from 2020)
- Cars: $8 billion (up 47.2%)
- Trucks: $2.3 billion (up 89.5%)
- Automobile bodies: $2 billion (up 28.2%)
- Tractors: $1.6 billion (up 48.3%)
- Trailers: $1 billion (up 53.8%)
- Motorcycles: $294.6 million (up 78.2%)
- Special purpose vehicles: $290.8 million (up 21.8%)
- Bicycles, other non-motorized cycles: $212.2 million (up 70.2%)
- Motorcycle parts/accessories: $171.9 million (up 111.3%)
Among these import subcategories, Russian purchases of motorcycle parts or accessories (up 111.3%), trucks (up 89.5%) then motorcycles (up 78.2%) grew at the fastest pace from 2020 to 2021.
These amounts and percentages within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of imported vehicles among Russian businesses and consumers.
In 2021, Russian importers spent the most on the following 6 subcategories of pharmaceuticals.
- Medication mixes in dosage: US$9.4 billion (up 29.8% from 2020)
- Blood fractions (including antisera): $3.6 billion (up 25.6%)
- Sutures, special pharmaceutical goods: $386.5 million (up 1.3%)
- Medication mixes not in dosage: $213.1 million (down -8.7%)
- Dried organs, heparin: $201.1 million (up 140.2%)
- Packaged dressings: $58.8 million (down -6.3%)
Among these import subcategories, the fastest growth belongs to dried organs and heparin (up 140.2% from 2020 to 2021), medication mixes in dosage (up 29.8%), and blood fractions including antisera (up 25.6%).
These amounts and the percentage gains within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of imported pharmaceuticals among Russian businesses and consumers.
See also Russia’s Top 10 Exports, 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 11, 2022
International Monetary Fund, Exchange Rates selected indicators (Domestic Currency per U.S. dollar, period average). Accessed on March 11, 2022
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on March 11, 2022
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on March 11, 2022