Russia’s economy is forecast to contract by 3.5% by the end of 2015. Russia’s trade surplus fell to $9.6bn in September 2015 from $12.1bn a year earlier, the lowest since 2010. Imports fell by 35.5% and exports fell by 38% in this time.
Russia’s economy, in recession all year, has suffered from declining oil prices, Western sanctions (particularly access to Western finance), and Russia’s further embargoes on food imports, while China’s economic slowdown has stymied Russian president Vladimir Putin’s hopes for increased Russia-China trade. Russia is supposedly developing import substitution, but analysts report that high interest rates and a shortage of capital have hindered these plans.
The ruble has fallen from 46.2 to the dollar a year ago to 65.5 to the dollar today, with inflation at about 11.4%. However, in the words of one experienced Western trader, there is money in Russia, and the country will still seek imports to meet its needs.