The recent reading implies that trade balance growth is on a downwards trend. Even with slightly higher oil prices in 2012 vs. 2011, the full-year trade surplus narrowed a bit as imports added more vigorously than exports. Hence, without rising oil prices Russia’s trade balance is set to shrink in the medium term, putting pressure on RUB. At the same time, and given the overall bleak economic picture, we do not expect imports to add actively in the quarters to come. However, the favourable base effect might underpin the growth in imports.
As far as January is concerned, we might see trade balance volumes almost unchanged near USD 18bn, on the back of slower imports and progress in oil quotes (average Brent stood at USD 112/bbl in the first month of the current year vs. USD 109.2/bbl and USD 109.3/bbl in the previous months).