Based on the average exchange rate for 2020, the Russian ruble has depreciated by -7.5% against the US dollar since 2016 and declined by -11.4% from 2019 to 2020. 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, 44.8% of Russia’s total imports by value in 2020 were purchased from fellow European countries. Asian trade partners generated 44.3% of import sales to Russia while 6.5% worth originated from North America. Smaller percentages came from Latin America (2.7%) excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean, Africa (1.1%) and Oceania (0.4%) led by Australia.
Given Russia ‘s population of 146.8 million people, its total $231.6 billion in 2020 imports translates to roughly $1,600 in yearly product demand from every person in the vast Eurasian country.
Russia’s Top 10 Imports
The following product groups represent the highest dollar value in Russia’s import purchases during 2020. Also shown is the percentage share each product category represents in terms of overall imports into Russia.
- Machinery including computers: US$43.1 billion (18.6% of total imports)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: $30.2 billion (13%)
- Vehicles: $18.4 billion (7.9%)
- Pharmaceuticals: $10.8 billion (4.7%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: $9.3 billion (4%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $8.1 billion (3.5%)
- Articles of iron or steel: $5.6 billion (2.4%)
- Fruits, nuts: $5.3 billion (2.3%)
- Organic chemicals: $4.6 billion (2%)
- Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): $3.9 billion (1.7%)
Russia’s top 10 imports accounted for roughly three-fifths (60.1%) of the overall value of its product purchases from other countries.
Optical, technical and medical apparatus represents the fastest-growing Russian import category, up 11.2% from 2019 to 2020. In second place were imported articles made from fruits and nuts via its 3% improvement, trailed by the 2.8% gain for organic chemicals.
Leading the decliners among Russia’s top 10 import categories year over year were: items made from iron or steel (down -13.7%), vehicles (down -22.5%) and pharmaceuticals (down -23.2%).
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 2020, Russian importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of machinery including computers.
- Computers, optical readers: US$6.3 billion (up 10.6% from 2019)
- Temperature-change machines: $2.9 billion (up 31.8%)
- Taps, valves, similar appliances: $2.3 billion (down -1.2%)
- Centrifuges, filters and purifiers: $1.7 billion (down -8.4%)
- Miscellaneous machinery: $1.7 billion (up 3%)
- Liquid pumps and elevators: $1.5 billion (down -0.8%)
- Heavy machinery (bulldozers, excavators, road rollers): $1.5 billion (down -19.1%)
- Air or vacuum pumps: $1.5 billion (down -2.3%)
- Piston engines: $1.3 billion (down -12.2%)
- Computer parts, accessories: $1.2 billion (up 11.3%)
Among these import subcategories, Russian purchases of temperature-change machines (up 31.8%), computers including optical readers (up 10.6%) then miscellaneous machinery (up 3%) grew at the fastest pace from 2019 to 2020.
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 2020, Russian importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of electrical products including consumer electronics.
- Phone system devices including smartphones: US$9.4 billion (up 3.9% from 2019)
- Electric water heaters, hair dryers: $1.8 billion (up 6.1%)
- Lower-voltage switches, fuses: $1.3 billion (up 1.1%)
- Electrical/optical circuit boards, panels: $1.3 billion (up 5.1%)
- Electrical converters/power units: $1.3 billion (down -1.3%)
- Integrated circuits/microassemblies: $1.3 billion (up 7.6%)
- TV receivers/monitors/projectors: $1.2 billion (down -5.4%)
- TV/radio/radar device parts: $1.2 billion (down -1.1%)
- Insulated wire/cable: $1.1 billion (up 1.3%)
- Electric generating sets, converters: $890.9 million (up 2.4%)
Among these import subcategories, Russian purchases of integrated circuits and microassemblies (up 7.6%), electric water heaters and hair dryers (up 6.1%) then electrical and optical circuit boards or panels (up 5.1%) grew at the fastest pace from 2019 to 2020.
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 2020, Russian importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of vehicles.
- Automobile parts/accessories: US$7.7 billion (down -12.6% from 2019)
- Cars: $5.4 billion (down -31.4%)
- Automobile bodies: $1.5 billion (down -31.8%)
- Trucks: $1.2 billion (down -38.1%)
- Tractors: $1.1 billion (down -19.2%)
- Trailers: $659.4 million (down -9.6%)
- Special purpose vehicles: $239 million (up 24.1%)
- Public-transport vehicles: $195.6 million (down -12%)
- Motorcycles: $164.7 million (up 19.8%)
- Bicycles, other non-motorized cycles: $124.6 million (up 14.7%)
Among these import subcategories, Russian purchases of special purpose vehicles (up 24.1%), motorcycles (up 19.8%) then bicycles including other non-motorized cycles (up 14.7%) grew from 2019 to 2020.
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 2020, Russian importers spent the most on the following 6 subcategories of pharmaceuticals.
- Medication mixes in dosage: US$7.2 billion (down -29% from 2019)
- Blood fractions (including antisera): $2.8 billion (down -7.3%)
- Sutures, special pharmaceutical goods: $381.4 million (down -19.3%)
- Medication mixes not in dosage: $233.5 million (down -16.7%)
- Dried organs, heparin: $83.7 million (up 171.2%)
- Packaged dressings: $62.7 million (down -7.9%)
Among these import subcategories, only Russian purchases of dried organs and heparin was the sole increase from 2019 to 2020 via its 171.2% gain.
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 February 28, 2021
International Monetary Fund, Exchange Rates selected indicators (National Currency per U.S. dollar, period average). Accessed on February 28, 2021
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on February 28, 2021
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on February 28, 2021