Estonia has coped well with drying up of trade with Russia

Tank cars carrying oil.
Tank cars carrying oil. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

Estonia's trade with Russia has fallen significantly, and some previously key imports are no longer imported from Russia at all. The country's economy has nonetheless coped well with the changes.

Evelin Puura, leading analyst at Statistics Estonia, said that exports to Russia last year fell by just one percent on year. Prices, meanwhile, have gone up 20 percent, and thus exports have decreased more in volume. Exports chiefly include various machines and equipment.

"These have now decreased significantly," Puura said. "Big bucket loaders and excavators, all kinds of equipment for [mining or processing] ores and rock, electronics, integrated circuits and such things have disappeared or all but."

Imports, meanwhile, fell 14 percent.

"In January, February, March and April, imports from Russia still grew — 50 percent, 23 percent," she continued. "Beginning in August, [imports] began falling significantly, by more than 50 percent each month."

This coincides with the entry into force of sanctions, Puura explained. Some goods that had previously been imported in significant volumes have since disappeared from import statistics altogether, such as various fuel oils, sawn timber, wood veneer as well as metal products.

Estonia's biggest imports from Russia in December included crude oil, rare-earth elements and textile bags for packaging goods, thoroughly shaking up the usual list of most significant import goods on year.

"There isn't a single good that has increased significantly since the beginning of the year," Puura said. "Rather, it has remained steady, if not a sanctioned good, or has decreased somewhat. All trade with Russia has dried up significantly."

These goods have not yet been replaced from other sources at matching volumes either, meaning that Estonia is currently importing less altogether. At the same time, the economy has coped surprisingly well, noted Tallinn University of Technology (TalTech) lecturer and Bank of Estonia economist Peeter Luikmel.

"This area of trade with Russia still hasn't directly affected the majority of Estonian workers," Luikmel highlighted. "There may be investments in whose case risks have been realized, but the economy as a whole has coped very well with the shock over the first year of sanctions, given its scope."

He added that there has been no evidence of a current wave of unemployment such as that seen in 1998, when Estonian unemployment rose to over 20 percent due to the Russian financial crisis.


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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