As before, the bulk of Russian exports consists of raw materials. Fuel and energy resources account for the biggest share (41 percent) of exports, while the Fuel-and-Energy Complex production (oil, natural gas, oil products) becomes more and more oriented towards external markets.
In 1995 a decline in export growth rates in real terms was observed as natural gas exports increased by 11 percent (14 percent in 1994), oil products grew by 8 percent (11 percent), oil--by only 1 percent (11 percent).
Growth of exports as calculated in value terms was primarily caused by a favorable situation on the world market. Average contract oil prices of exports in the countries outside the former Soviet Union increased by about 7 percent as compared with 1994 figures, natural gas exports grew by 10 percent while oil products showed a 6.6 percent increase.
Metal exports accounted for a 20 percent share in the Russian exports. Nickel and ferrous metals exports grew most rapidly at 37 and 26 percent accordingly. Average export prices of key metals surged, thus, price of nickel increased by 33.1 percent, of aluminum--by 36.9 percent, of copper--by 24.2 percent, of ferrous alloys--by 24.7 percent, of pig iron--by 14.6 percent. The pattern of metal exports has somewhat changed. Customs statistics reveal a growing number of contracts on export of finished metal articles, however, their share in the total export volumes is still insignificant. These articles are being made according to designs of foreign companies (mostly in aircraft and engineering industries) under a binding condition that they shall be manufactured in accordance with the West European standards and certified by a foreign firm. It is too early to suggest the end of an age of raw exports conducted in their most primitive form, however, the Russian metal industry is given an opportunity to participate in the international division of labor on equal basis and to reach a qualitatively new level of production.
The share of chemicals made 9.6 percent. Mineral fertilizers still remain a key export item in the industry. Export volumes of mineral fertilizers increased by 14 percent in comparison with 1994 figures. Simultaneously, average contract prices also grew (by 24 percent).
Export patterns within the forestry and paper industry tended to be oriented towards raw materials in recent years affecting the structure of currency proceeds accordingly. A third of foreign exchange proceeds was derived from raw timber (logs) exports while semi-finished timber (lumber) accounted for 25 percent of proceeds and processing-intensive products brought only 32 percent.
A considerable increase in physical volumes of exports in the countries outside the former Soviet Union as compared with the previous year figures was reported for logs (37 percent) and cellulose (38 percent). At the same time, average export prices of logs grew by 2.8 percent and of cellulose -- by 96.6 percent.
One of the ways to increase export revenues is an expansion of sales markets for Russian-made weapons and military equipment. Export volumes of military production made $ 2.6 billion in 1995, that being by 1.7 times more than in 1994.
The share of machines and equipment in Russian exports to countries outside the former Soviet Union contracted to 3.8 percent as compared with 5.3 percent in 1994. Development of new competitive and technologically-intensive products relevant to modern level of requirements on external markets demands large investment and is time-consuming.
Table 5.2 Volumes of Russian Foreign Trade with Countries Outside Former Soviet Union in Value Terms (without unorganized trade, US$ billions)
Source: Ministry of Economy of RF.
In % to previous year
In % to previous year
In % to previous year
In % to previous year
Foreign trade turnover
An increase in internal productional costs, first of all at the expense of energy and raw materials, more expensive loans, growing transport expenses, aging production assets in extractive and processing branches, deteriorating productional situation contributed to diminishing effectiveness of export transactions. At present only export of natural gas, oil, nickel, timber and lumber are profitable. Export of oil products, ferrous and nonferrous metals, chemicals begins to bring losses. However, due to worsening financial situation of Russian enterprises and growing payment arrears exporters prefer to have hard currencies even at declining or altogether negative profitability of exports.
The most dynamic and growing market of the Russian Federation are industrialized Western countries. The largest share of Russian exports goes to Germany (9.1 percent). The USA account for 6.9 percent, Switzerland--for 5.8 percent, Italy--for 5.6 percent, Japan--for 5.5 percent, Netherlands -- for 4.9 percent, Great Britain -- for 4.7 percent and Finland--for 4 percent of Russian exports.
The pattern of Russian imports has not been changed considerably. As before, machines and equipment were ranked first and accounted for a 38 percent share of the total imports which grew by 23 percent in comparison with 1994. It was caused by a necessity to provide key branches of the national economy with modern technologies and equipment.
A decline in agriculture followed by deteriorating provision of the populace with domestic-made foodstuffs has led to an expansion of food imports. Such measures as a rise of import duty rates, introduction of excises and of value added tax, abolition of preferences concerning import tariffs, which have been taken lately, contributed to an increase in internal prices of imported goods thus creating prerequisites to restrain imports. However, stabilization of ruble somewhat compensated for the negative impact of growing import duties and excises and helped to increase imports.
In 1995 imports grew considerably, especially of such products as sunflower oil (a 232 percent increase), poultry (by 70 percent more), alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages (a 67 percent increase), butter (an increase by 65 percent), frozen meat (by 43 percent more).
In the nearest future dynamics and pattern of the country's foreign trade will be first of all determined by the internal economic situation, i.e. whether it shows signs of business revival or not, by changes in the structure of supply and solvent demand on the domestic market, as well as by exchange rate policies. The regulatory mechanism of the external economic activities may also change due to political factors.
In 1996 exports grew somewhat slower (at about 1--3 percent rates). It was expected that export of major fuel and energy resources would remain at the same level while such products as metals, chemicals, timber, pulp and paper would be exported in increasing quantities.