According to recent trade data, Lithuania has become Russia’s largest supplier of wine, surpassing Italy, despite strained relations and ongoing sanctions. The UN Comtrade database of international trade statistics reveals that from January to August 2023, Lithuania exported $126 million worth of wine to Russia, marking a 20.6% increase compared to the previous year. Georgia came in second place with $112.1 million worth of wine exports (a 19.4% increase), while Latvia ranked third with $79 million (an 18.5% increase). These figures highlight the significant role that Baltic states, such as Lithuania and Latvia, are playing in the Russian wine market.
The top ten wine suppliers to Russia also included Italy ($72.7 million), Spain ($20.8 million), Poland ($18.3 million), Germany ($11.3 million), Chile ($10.4 million), Portugal ($7.7 million), and Armenia ($6.3 million). It is worth noting that neither Lithuania nor Latvia are recognized for their wine production, with relatively small viticulture industries. Lithuania’s annual wine output is approximately 60,000 hectoliters, while Latvia’s is even lower. In comparison, Italy, Europe’s largest wine producer, produced 50.3 million hectoliters of wine in 2022.
The origin of the Latvian and Lithuanian wine exports to Russia is not specified in the data. However, it is mentioned that during the reporting period, the two countries collectively imported $59.3 million worth of wine from Italy, $21 million from Spain, and $14.1 million from Germany. Based on this information, it is likely that Lithuania and Latvia are reselling the wine purchased from their EU counterparts to the Russian market since their combined wine production would be insufficient to cover such a high volume of exports.
In 2022, Russia imported around four million hectoliters of wine, with Italy, Spain, and Georgia being the top three suppliers. This suggests that Latvia and Lithuania are effectively acting as intermediaries in the wine trade between the EU and Russia. During a period marked by Ukraine-related sanctions, the EU imposed a ban on wine exports to Russia exceeding €300 ($315) per bottle. As a result, members of the French Champagne growers’ union halted their supply to Russia. In response to these sanctions, Russia increased import duties on wine from “unfriendly” countries from 12.5% to 20% in July of this year.
These recent trade dynamics illustrate the resilience of the wine market between Lithuania, Latvia, and Russia, despite political tensions and economic sanctions. The Baltic states have managed to increase their wine exports to Russia, demonstrating their importance as key suppliers in the Russian wine industry. As geopolitical circumstances continue to evolve, it will be interesting to observe how these trade relationships develop and whether other countries will also seek opportunities in the Russian wine market.
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