U.S. Census Bureau foreign trade data show that exports rose 17 percent from March through May _ the most recent months for which the data is available _ compared with the previous three months, before sanctions were imposed. The value of exports has risen in each consecutive month this year, an unusual trend in a trade relationship that historically fluctuates on a monthly basis.
Russian markets account for less than 1 percent of U.S. exports, but what the U.S. sells to Russia is largely high-tech and expensive goods, including technology and equipment for the energy sector, which faces the threat of targeted sanctions.
Robert Kahn, a senior fellow in international economics at the Council on Foreign Relations, said the rise in exports was evidence that Russian companies were stockpiling goods with the expectation that future sanctions would prevent U.S. companies from selling to their country.
Other trade specialists said the figures didn’t necessarily show a consistent trend. With the Russian market for U.S. products relatively small _ just $5.1 billion total in the first five months of the year _ a slight increase in sales of a few big-ticket items, such as cars and airplanes, can drive trade-figure percentage increases higher.
“If you take Boeing, they are tens of millions of dollars” per aircraft, said Anders Aslund, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, a Washington research center. “One order . . . makes a lot of difference.”
Boeing delivered eight jets to Russian airlines this year through June. The total price of civilian aircraft and parts sent to Russia this year through May was $1.39 billion. The types of planes purchased by Russian airlines, from the 737 and 777 families, cost $76 million to $320 million each last year, according to Boeing.
Exports of cars and trucks, which totaled more than $1.2 billion last year, were up 95 percent in March, April and May compared with the previous three months. While in recent years automotive sales have risen in the spring, the increase is usually smaller. This year’s growth during the March through May period was 90 percent higher than last year’s.
General machinery accounted for another $1 billion in exports in the first five months of the year, with sales fluctuating on a monthly basis. Sales of mining and oil and gas field machinery made up the largest portion, amounting to $227 million.
To increase production in order to fill export demands _ in May, Putin signed a 30-year pipeline agreement with China that reportedly could be worth $400 billion in new gas sales _ Russia has looked to fracking and drilling within the Arctic, both processes that require more advanced equipment such as that used at American drilling sites.
John Webb, the director of Russian and Caspian energy for IHS, a Colorado-based industry consulting and data company, said investment from U.S. energy companies that included Exxon Mobil and Halliburton had played a key role in the development of Russian offshore and shale oil fields. Russia has a limited number of plants that manufacture the heavy-duty rigs, he said.
Full article: U.S. sales to Russia have only risen since sanctions imposed (McClatchy DC)