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Economic sanctions scenario

March 24, 2014

A leading German think-tank has claimed Russia would be hit harder by economic sanctions than the 28-member EU in case of a complete trade embargo by the West over the Crimea conflict. But it didn't advise to impose it.

German oil refinery
Image: cc-by-sa-Michael Kauffmann

The Munich-based Ifo research institute said in a survey Monday a full trade boycott would have a major impact on Russia's economy and would be felt by the European Union to a far lesser degree.

"Exports to the EU currently account for 15 percent of Russian economic output," Ifo noted. "Conversely, exports by the EU to Russia account for only about 1 percent of the bloc's gross domestic product."

But the think-tank's trade expert, Gabriel Felbermayr warned Russia should not be marginalized by trade policy as the country was a far more important market for Germany than for other EU members.

Think twice, Ifo warns

He said the EU's current negotiations with Moldova, Georgia and Ukraine on free trade agreements were putting Russia into a corner which "was not in Germany's interests."

Under pressure

Felbermayr pointed out that around 86 percent of German imports from Russia consisted of oil, gas and coal. That, he said, was even more critical than the naked figure suggested as a large fraction of Germany's value-added supply chain depended on those raw materials.

Ifo said the largest Russian energy shipments went to the German states of Bavaria, Brandenburg and Saxony-Anhalt. It concluded that any lapse in those imports would have particularly serious short-term economic implications. In the latter two eastern German states, raw materials from Russia, including oil as a feedstock for refineries, accounted for 11 percent of total economic output, the study revealed.

hg/hc (Reuters, dpa)