EU exports to Russia's neighbours have risen sharply

EU exports to Russia's neighbours have risen sharply
Credit: Belga / Kurt Desplenter

EU Member States have increased trade with Russia's neighbouring countries such as Kyrgyzstan, Armenia and Uzbekistan, economist Eric Dor, Director of Economic Studies at the IESEG School of Management reported on Friday.

As the EU banned exports to Russia at the start of the 2022 invasion of Ukraine, the situation is leading to concerns that sanctions are being circumvented given that these countries continue to trade freely with Russia.

According to data compiled by the economist, EU exports of goods to Russia fell by €34 billion between 2021 and 2022 (-38%) due to the sanctions.

At the same time, however, trade has risen sharply with countries that continue to trade freely with the Russian state: +345% of exports of goods to Kyrgyzstan (€909 million increase), +165% to Armenia (€1.1 billion), +130% to Uzbekistan (€1.5 billion), +94% to Kazakhstan (€4.9 billion), +58% to Georgia (€1.2 billion) and +23% to Turkey (€20.5 billion). This trend even intensified at the beginning of 2023.

Belgium is no exception to this trend. Between 2021 and 2022, Belgian exports of goods to Russia fell by €730 million (-16.76%) but rose by €1 billion to Turkey, €299 million to Kazakhstan, €81 million to Uzbekistan, €45 million to Armenia and €34 million to Georgia. In Belgium, as in the rest of the EU, the increase in exports to Russia's neighbours has even intensified.

“There are therefore strong presumptions that goods purchased by these countries from the European Union are then re-exported by them to Russia,” analyses Eric Dor.

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These presumptions are reinforced by the strong increase in exports from these countries to Russia: in euros, they have risen by 222% for Armenia, 82% for Turkey and 12% for Georgia between 2021 and 2022.

The risk of circumventing sanctions against Russia is also very high for goods that may have military use, even if the industry also uses them for other purposes, the economist adds.

He takes the example of electronic integrated circuits: European exports to Russia have fallen by 81% in one year but have risen by 3,461% to Kyrgyzstan, 1,313% to Armenia, 221% to Uzbekistan and 193% to Kazakhstan.

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