The European Union is the leading trade partner of the Russian Federation. EU Мember States account for about 50 per cent of the total Russian exports and imports. For instance, over the past decade EU-Russia turnover in goods tripled and by the year 2012 reached 336.5 billion euros. The volume of Russia’s goods exports to the European Union increased 3.5 times and grew from 64.5 billion euros in 2002 to 213.3 billion euros in 2012. Over the same period Russian imports of goods from the European Union rose from 34.4 billion euros to 123.2 billion euros, i.e. 3.5 times.
In the EU foreign trade Russia holds the third place after the US and China. At the same time, as far as imports of goods from the European Union are concerned, in 2012 Russia outstripped the US and took the second place. Overall, among EU’s major export markets Russia holds the fourth place after the US, China and Switzerland.
Despite the positive trend of trade relations, the Russian side is not satisfied with the persistent asymmetry in the structure of bilateral trade. For instance, in 2012 raw materials, first of all mineral fuels, accounted for the major share of Russian exports to the European Union. On the contrary, Russia’s imports from the European Union consisted mainly of machinery and transport equipment, chemicals and related products, various manufactured goods, as well as foodstuffs.
The European Union is the largest investor in the Russian economy. About 75 per cent of direct foreign investment comes to Russia from EU Member States. The European Union has a surplus in bilateral trade in services. In 2011 EU exports of services to Russia amounted to 24 billion euros, while its corresponding imports were about 14 billion euros.
After 18 years of negotiations Russia became the 156th member of the WTO. Russia’s WTO accession is of great importance for the European Union as well, since trade and economic activities on the basis of single principles and rules encourage mutual investments and strengthen trade relations between the partners.
In accordance with its WTO commitments, after the accession Russia brought down the average rate of its import duties from 10 to 7.8 per cent. In such key sectors 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 euro annually. Additional growth of exports of EU goods to the Russian Federation is expected to reach about 3.9 billion euro annually.
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