Russian exports to Europe dropped by more than two-thirds last year, as the EU drastically cut its purchases of Russian oil and gas, Russia’s customs agency said yesterday.
EU countries have halted the vast majority of their energy purchases from Russia in a bid to heap economic pressure on Moscow over its military offensive against Ukraine.
Russian exports to Europe dropped 68 percent last year to US$84.9 billion, the Interfax news agency cited Russia’s federal customs agency as saying.
Exports to Asia — which has replaced Europe as the country’s main energy client — were up 5.6 percent to US$306.6 billion, the agency said.
After it was hit with Western sanctions, Moscow stopped publishing a vast array of economic statistics, including trade data with individual countries.
Separate Chinese customs data showed two-way trade between the two countries hit a record US$240 billion last year, amid growing economic, trading and political ties between Beijing and Moscow.
Russia’s Central Bank also said last week that holdings of Chinese yuan in Russian bank accounts exceeded US dollars for the first time ever, as Russia’s financial system embraces the Chinese currency in the face of sanctions on its access to the US dollar.
Russia’s overall trade surplus came in at US$140 billion last year — down 58.5 percent from the previous year, which saw Moscow earn bumper energy revenues as its offensive on Ukraine sent oil and gas prices surging and Europe carried on buying Russian energy for much of the year.
Energy exports are a critical source of revenue for Russia’s budget, bringing in billions of dollars every month.
Russian imports from Europe were also down last year, falling 12.3 percent to US$78.5 billion, while the value of goods bought from Asia continued to climb, jumping 29.2 percent to US$187.5 billion, Interfax reported.
The Russian ruble steadied near 91 to the US dollar yesterday, held up by relatively high oil prices, as exporters start converting foreign currency revenues in preparation for month-end tax payments.
At 8:05am GMT, the ruble was 0.19 percent weaker against the US dollar at 91.07 and had lost 0.3 percent to trade at 98.31 versus the euro. It firmed 0.27 percent against the yuan to 12.53.
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