Foreign Trade of Russia: Barometer Foretells Storm

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V. Obolenskii, Institute of Economics, Russian Academy of Sciences, 32, Nakhimovskii Prosp., Moscow, 117218, Russian Federation; Primakov Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Russian Academy of Sciences, (IMEMO), 23, Profsoyuznaya Str., Moscow, 117997, Russian Federation (vobolenskiy@mail.ru



Abstract

The development of Russian foreign trade during the previous five years is analyzed. It is stated that, in terms of value, exports of services and imports of goods and services steadily grew during the first four years of the period under review. Exports of goods also rose during three years, but in 2014 both exports and imports again fell in comparison with the previous year as was the case five years ago. The composition of the Russian exports and imports of goods did not change radically during the previous years. The main items of export are, as always, mineral products, metals and fertilizers. Import is prevailed by foodstuffs, chemicals and heavy engineering equipment. The current situation is featured by the reduction of world oil prices, slump of the domestic economy and war of sanctions with the Western countries. All this substantially impairs the conditions of Russia’s foreign trade activities and inhibits its development in the upcoming years. In the author’s view, the implementation of measures worked out by the government – correction of tariff liabilities before the WTO, redirecting of trade streams from the European to the Asian markets, import substitution and export support – will unlikely improve the situation. Revision of the liabilities before the WTO in the conditions of the decrease of the internal demand and serious devaluation of Ruble is considered as inappropriate and counterproductive. “Asiatic turn” is only capable to compensate to a certain respect the loss of supplies of some food products from Europe, but cannot fully offset the loss of potentialities of the acquisition of modern technologies and equipment from the developed countries. It is doubtful that it will be possible to dramatically cut the import dependence. It is necessary to replace many kinds of foreign goods, but it is impossible to implement a frontal substitution of import in all directions. Excessive stress on the import substitution might lead to the emergence of shortages and poorer availability of some goods at the internal market and, at the worst, to self-isolation and economic autarky. The attempts to build up an effective system of export support might be successful only in the conditions of the establishment of the large-scale production of goods and services which would be comparable with the foreign analogues in respect to the criteria of price and quality. Taking this into consideration the technological renovation of production processes, first of all in the manufacturing industry, and on this basis rising up of the competitiveness of plants and factories are the most important prerequisites for encouraging export activities and formation of the new export specialization of the country. 


Keywords

foreign trade, economic recession, liabilities to WTO, “Asiatic turn”, import substitution, export support, Russia 


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For citation:
Obolenskiy V. Foreign Trade of Russia: Barometer Foretells Storm. Mirovaya ekonomika i mezhdunarodnye otnosheniya, 2016, vol. 60, No 2, pp. 15-25



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