Saturday, April 20, 2024

Imports to Russia have Recovered Qualitatively but Declined Qualitatively since 2022, Study Finds

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Apr. 15 – The Kremlin is celebrating the fact that imports have recovered to almost the level they were at in 2021 as evidence of Moscow’s ability to withstand Western sanctions, but these imports have declined qualitatively, leaving Russian consumers and industries in far worse shape, Anton Sborov says.

            In fact, the economist analyst writes in The Insider, the quality and mix of imported goods now resembles that of the 1990s when low quality and fake goods flooded the market and thereby worsened the conditions of the population and the possibilities for business and industry; and the only real growth has been in state purchases for war (

            In 2021, Russia imported 380 billion US dollars’ worth of goods, a figure that fell sharply in 2022 but that recovered to 379 billion US dollars’ worth in 2023, a pattern that the Kremlin and its media have pointed to as evidence that sanctions have failed even in this sector and one that many in the West have accepted as well.

            But the composition of imports has changed fundamentally, with low qualitative or knock off goods replacing high quality and original ones, Sborov says, something that has hurt consumers who have had to make do with ever low-quality ones and businesses and industries which can’t fix existing equipment or hope to develop or modernize.

            This pattern has hit consumers particularly hard. They can no longer find high-quality brands from the West but must make do with poor-quality substitutes mostly from China or other countries still willing to trade with Russia. And they are having trouble fixing computers and other equipment they imported earlier because they can’t get parts.

            But over the longer term, this trend is preventing businesses and industry from replacing worn-out equipment in a timely fashion and avoiding accidents and cutbacks in production, let alone modernizing production to take advantage of the latest developments in Western markets, Sborov continues.

            These problems will only grow, the economic analyst argues, an indication that the impact of even existing sanctions has not yet been fully felt even in the qualitative areas already hurting, something that should be remembered even if the Kremlin can report that imports are continuing to grow in 2024.


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