Exports to Russia from six countries of Eastern Europe, for which there is detailed information by the end of 2015, compared to 2014 to €5.9 billion, writes the Financial Times. According to the publication, import of products from Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Poland, Czech Republic and Bulgaria for the year fell by 30% on average. Hungarian and Slovak exports to Russia declined in similar proportions, but reported for the first 11 months of last year.
For Poland, Russia moved up to seventh place from fifth in export volume, and third from the second by import volume, writes the FT. When China first overtook Russia for the supply of goods and services in Poland.
The main source of imports in Bulgaria in 2015 was Germany, notes the FT. In Lithuania the share of exports to Russia declined last year to 14% from 21% in 2014. Economists of the company Euler Hermes, the world’s largest insurer for export credits, said the conflict in Ukraine has led to a decrease in twice the rate of growth of the Lithuanian economy (+1.7 percent) last year.
The Financial Times notes that large Russian companies are also leaving the Eastern European region. According to the publication, in December, the savings Bank sold its subsidiary in Slovakia, and hinted at a desire to escape from the “less significant” of the European markets. LUKOIL from 2014 got rid of assets in Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Estonia, and in early February 2016 agreed to sell its petrol stations in Lithuania, Latvia and Poland.
In response to Western sanctions in connection with the Ukrainian crisis, Russia imposed restrictions on food imports from EU countries. The decline in bilateral trade turnover was exacerbated by the decline of the Russian economy and reduce the cost of energy for export, reminiscent of FT.
According to the expert of the Carnegie endowment of balázs Arabica, the conflict between Russia and the West over Ukraine has only resumed a declining trend of trade with Eastern Europe, which emerged after the collapse of the Soviet Union, but slowed in early 2010-ies on the background of the Eurozone crisis. “Some of the old ties might be restored, but I believe that the policy will continue to poison trade relations, intervening in them, especially in the Baltic States and Poland,” he said. Arabic added that “hysteria” about Russian influence in the Baltic States leads to the fact that their governments “will swallow the economic costs from breaking ties with Russia in the interests of security and internal politics.”
Professor Ramunas Vilpisauskas, who heads the Institute of international relations and political science at Vilnius University, told the FT that the business in countries affected by the downturn of bilateral relations, wishes to return to the resumption of trade with Russia as soon as the chance arose, and despite the political rhetoric. He emphasized that Lithuanian companies do not miss the chance to be among the first to return to the Russian market, as soon as it stabilized the economic situation and will be removed trade barriers. The Professor added that this perspective appears to be remote at the moment.
In January, the official representative of the General administration of customs of the PRC announced a significant drop in trade between China and Russia. Its volume in 2015 fell by 27.8% to $64.2 billion While Chinese exports to Russia decreased by 34,4%, while Russian imports to China by 19.1%.