The European Union remains the leading trade partner of the Russian Federation. The EU Мember States account for about 50 per cent of the total Russian exports and imports. For instance, over the past decade (between 2004 and 2014) Russia-EU turnover in goods doubled and reached 285.5 billion euros by 2014. The volume of Russia’s goods exports to the EU increased by more than twice and grew from approximately 84.92 billion euros in 2004 to 182,03 billion euros in 2014. Over the same period Russian imports of goods from the EU rose from 46.12 billion euros to 103.48 billion euros.
However, in 2013, for the first time since the “crisis year” of 2009, the trade in goods showed a decrease. The turnover reached 326,3 billion euros that year and thus contracted by 3.6% compared with 2012.; the Russian exports fell to about 206,5 billion euro (- 4.0%), the Russian imports - to 119.8 (- 2,9%). Unfortunately, that negative tendency continued in 2014: the turnover amounted to 285.5 billion euros (-12,5% compared to 2013), the Russian exports fell to approximately 182.0 billion euros (-12.0%) and imports - to 103.4 billion euros (-13,4%).
The structure of trade in goods remains unchanged. In 2014 raw materials (first of all, mineral fuels) accounted for the major share of Russian exports to the EU, with Russia’s imports consisting mainly of machinery and transport equipment, chemicals and related products, various manufactured goods, and foodstuffs.
In August 2012 after 18 years of negotiations Russia became the 156th member of the WTO. After the accession in accordance with its obligations Russia started to reduce the average rate of its import duties from an average 10.0 to 7.8 per cent. In such a key sector as automotive industry, import duties were lowered from 30 to 25 per cent. Upon the expiry of the seven-year transitional period they will be reduced to 15 per cent. It is estimated that, on average, the reduction of import duties will enable EU exporters to save up to 2.5 billion euros annually. The annual increase of exports of goods originating in the EU to the Russian Federation is expected to reach the volume of about 3.9 billion euros.
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