EU trade with Russia plunges to historic lows amid sanctions and war

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The European Union’s trade with Russia has fallen to its lowest levels since the start of the war in Ukraine, with Russia’s share in EU imports and exports now below the 2% mark, according to the latest data from Eurostat, the EU’s statistical office.

The data, released on Friday, showed that Russia’s share of EU goods trade was consistently below 2% for all months from March to June 2023, with imports from Russia at 1.7% of EU trade in June and exports at 1.4%. From 2002 to 2022, Russia’s share of EU imports was in a range of 7-10%, with exports around 4-6%.

The sharp decline in trade reflects the impact of the EU’s sanctions on Russia, which were imposed after Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. The sanctions target several sectors of the Russian economy, including energy, finance, defense and dual-use goods.

The EU has also sought to reduce its reliance on Russian energy products, which previously accounted for about 40% of EU natural gas imports and almost 30% of its incoming oil. In the second quarter of 2023, these shares had fallen to 21% and 2% respectively, reflecting both reduced volumes and prices lower than mid-2022 peaks.

The data also showed that the EU’s trade deficit with Russia, which measures the difference between what the EU imports from and exports to Russia, was also at its lowest level since 2002. The deficit peaked at €18.1 billion ($1.08 billion) in March 2022 and then progressively decreased to €10.5 billion ($11.4 billion) in September 2022.

The drop in trade has had a significant impact on both the EU and Russian economies, which have been struggling to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine. The EU is Russia’s largest trading partner, accounting for about 40% of its total trade in 2021. Russia is the EU’s fifth largest trading partner, after the United States, China, the United Kingdom and Switzerland.

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