China has become the only major foreign trade partner of the Russian Federation, with trade volumes confidently exceeding pre-crisis levels, follows from the industry report of the Analytical Center under the government. Remaining mainly as an exporter of raw materials, the Russian Federation imports machinery, equipment and consumer goods from China. According to polls of companies, due to this forced turn in the direction of investment imports from China, the latter is most likely still kept from a heavy fall.
The August bulletin on the dynamics of foreign trade of the Analytical Center under the government (AC) notes that "the geographical structure of Russian foreign trade continues to shift towards Asia." In 2017, the share of APEC countries in the export volume reached 24.2% (49.4% of all these supplies fall to China), double the 2008 figure, and in January-June 2018, according to the Federal Customs Service, the annual increase in the value of exports to the countries of this region accounted for 29% (in the EU and the CIS - by 25% and 17.8% respectively). The value of exports to China in 2017 increased by 38.9%, and for the six months of 2018 - by 42.7% in annual terms. The reason for this trend is the increase in prices for metals, mineral raw materials and timber, whose share in total exports to non-CIS countries was 81.7% in the first half of 2018 (80.7% a year ago).
It should be noted that according to the calculations of the AC, after the crisis fall in prices for the main export resources of the Russian Federation in 2014-2016, the export volumes to APEC countries reached the average monthly rates of 2010 (seasonally adjusted) as early as at the end of 2016, after which they grew, all exports, while exports of goods to the EU and the CIS in June 2018 were still below the average monthly levels in 2010.
Similar dynamics in comparison with the average monthly volumes of 2010 are observed, according to the estimates of the AC, and in imports. Thanks to its growth from the APEC countries in May 2017, the total value of the import value in the Russian Federation for the first time after the recession exceeded the level of 2010. At the same time, imports from the EU only in late 2017 - early 2018 attempted to grow, but since May it has started to decline again, and from the CIS countries it has not recovered.
Let's notice, that more than half of all import from the countries of far abroad - import of cars and the equipment. Against this backdrop, China, which accounted for 20.8% of the total value of imports in the Russian Federation in January-June 2018, was the only major importing country whose goods in the first half of 2018 exceeded the level of the first half of the pre-crisis 2014, and for the year it increased by 30.8%. The main deliveries from China to Russia are machinery and equipment, electrical and electronic equipment, clothing, accessories and footwear.
Recall that, according to the surveys of Yegor Gaidar IEP companies, the devaluation of the ruble and the sanctions war of 2014-2017 forced Russian enterprises to reduce purchases of machinery and equipment in the EU, Japan and the USA, while the share of purchases in the PRC increased from 19% to 35% in plans for 2018), although only 8% of respondents expressed preference for such purchases. Such a difference in preferences and plans is "a sign of a transition to cheaper and more affordable equipment (including sanctions) and less quality equipment," conclude the IEP (see "Kommersant" on May 28). Against the backdrop of a steady decline in imports (according to the estimates of Raiffeisenbank economists, it only increased month-by-month, taking into account the seasonality in June-August), purchases of machinery and equipment decreased most rapidly in August. However, the contribution of some investment goods (for example, electrical equipment) to the change in imports continues to remain positive, indicating a high dependence on external supplies, analysts say. And such dependence, most likely, now in the hands of Chinese suppliers.