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Exports to Russia down

Hardy GraupnerMay 21, 2015

The conflict in Ukraine and Western sanctions imposed against Moscow for its perceived role in it have led to German exports to Russia dwindling fast. But a long-term view shows trade relations are still intact overall.

Hamburg container port
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/K. Nietfeld

German exports to Russia dropped by a staggering 18 percent in 2014, the National Statistics Office (Destatis) reported Thursday, saying that shipments to that country reached a full-year volume of 29 billion euros ($32.2 billion).

The decline comes on the back of a 6-percent dip in exports a year earlier, highlighting the impact that worsening relations between the West and Russia over the latter's perceived role in the Ukraine conflict is having for the German business community.

At the same time, imports from Russia decreased by 7 percent in 2014 to total 38 billion euros, meaning that last year saw the highest ever annual German trade deficit with Russia.

Trade relations still intact

This is a rare phenomenon for an export-driven country like Germany which has a considerable export surplus with most of its trading partners. Only the Netherlands and Norway managed to achieve an even bigger export surplus in trade with Germany, with the imbalance reaching 15 billion euros and 11 billion euros respectively in 2014, compared with just 9 billion euros in the case of Russia.

Despite the sharp drop in German exports last year, Destatis noted a longer-term view of trade relations between the two countries showed that German shipments had still quadrupled, comparing the volumes of goods shipped in 2000 and 2014.

Russian imports have also increased over the same period. The country remains Germany's most important energy supplier, accounting for 31 percent of Germany's overall oil and gas imports.