Estonian trade with Russia not yet hit by effects of sanctions

Minister for IT and foreign trade Andres Sutt (Reform).
Minister for IT and foreign trade Andres Sutt (Reform). Source: RR

Sanctions issued on the Russian Federation and on Belarus in the wake of the invasion of Ukraine have not yet significantly affected trade with Estonia, according to recently published results from state agency Statistics Estonia, ETV news show 'Aktuaalne kaamera' (AK) reported Friday.

This is largely due to the lag between sanctions being put in place and their effects on trade presenting.

Compared with March 2021, imports from Russia in fact rose by 63 percent in value, while exports to Belarus rose by 13 percent over the same period, AK reported, though a good proportion of this is the result of inflation.

Minister for foreign trade Andrs Sutt said: "January and February were completely normal months, or at least until February 24. March was already different, but since then sanctions have gradually entered into force."

"With regard to mineral products, it must also be taken into account that the prices of all oil products have risen significantly compared to a year ago, so that part of this change in volume, the change in import volume, is purely related to price growth," Sutt went on.

The effects of sanctions also will not make themselves known in the first quarter results for this year, but will have a greater impact on the second quarter results, once these are announced.

Mineral products, chemical industry products and timber-related products remained the largest areas, with imports from Russia in the latter case running at one third higher than last year. 

Henrik Välja, CEO of the Estonian forest and timber industry association (Eesti Metsa- ja Puidutööstuse Liit), told AK that agreements had been signed earlier.

"Timber import contracts are usually concluded quarterly and in advance. Since the demand for timber products has been very high last year, at the end of last year, going to the first quarter of this year, we wanted to increase the volumes," adding that orders have since fallen off – though logistical problems mean orders placed before February 24 are still arriving in-country.

"What we are receiving today is, in fact, still a very large amount of the agreed volumes fro the first quarter, but which were is still delayed due to the logistics, which are, so to speak, confused in today's situation," Välja added.

Miniser Sutt said a more dramatic change is expected in the second quarter; from July, Russian timber imports are also banned, at EU-level.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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