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EU-Russia trade relations: State of play and prospects


Image (c) Stuart Mills, 2012. Used under license from

EU-Russia trade relations are growing again, after a drop in 2009.Russia is the EU’s main energy supplier. In return, the EU provides Russia with high-tech, manufactured products.

Despite widespread fears of European dependence on Russian energy supplies, the overall picture is more complex. It is true that Russia has a strong comparative advantage in fuel, but is quite weak as an exporter of manufactured goods. Therefore it is heavily dependent on its income from energy exports. The infrastructure in place, and long-term contracts which are difficult to vary, also make Russiadependent on its European clients.

The long-awaited accession of Russia to the World Trade Organisation raises hope of progress towards a new EU-Russia agreement. The remaining challenges concern in particular the implications of EU energy policy for Russia, the EU visa regime for Russian citizens, and Russian (ab)use of sanitary measures in import restrictions for food products from the EU. However, a number of bilateral trade-related problems were resolved in the agreements that paved the way for EU approval of Russia’s WTO accession.

EU imports from Russia (€ bn) - source:Eurostat

EU imports from Russia (€ bn) – source:Eurostat

EU exports to Russia (€ bn) - source: Eurostat

EU exports to Russia (€ bn) – source: Eurostat


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