The number of Russian companies engaged in international trade has witnessed a significant surge over the past decade, primarily due to the expansion of businesses that are not reliant on energy exports. According to Veronika Nikishina, the director general of the Russian Export Center, the number of exporters has risen by over 50% from 45,500 in 2016 to 71,500 last year.
Addressing the State Duma roundtable focused on Russian small and medium-sized businesses (SME), Nikishina highlighted the positive impact of state support for non-commodity and non-energy exports on Russia’s investment activity and economy. She emphasized that exporting goods and services not only contributes to profit growth but also enables Russian SMEs to rapidly expand their reach to international consumers.
This announcement comes in the wake of remarks by German Gref, the head of Sber, Russia’s largest state-owned lender, who expressed concern over the relatively small proportion of SMEs in the country’s economy. Currently, SMEs account for just one-fifth of Russia’s GDP. Gref cited examples from other countries, such as China, where SMEs make up 60-70% of the economy, and the US, Finland, and Italy, where small businesses contribute around 60-70% of GDP. He suggested that Russia should strive for similar levels of SME participation in order to foster economic growth.
According to the national statistics agency Rosstat, SMEs contributed 20.3% to Russia’s GDP in 2021. However, the government has launched a series of national schemes aiming to support SMEs and expects their contribution to GDP to reach 32.5% by 2024.
The growth of non-energy exporters is seen as a promising development for the Russian economy, as it diversifies the range of industries involved in international trade. This expansion implies a reduced dependence on the fluctuating global energy market and allows Russian businesses to explore new avenues for growth. It also suggests increased competitiveness, as companies in sectors other than energy are gaining traction in global markets.
The support offered by the Russian government to non-commodity and non-energy exporters has proven instrumental in boosting the number of companies engaged in international trade. This assistance has included financial incentives, export promotion programs, and trade facilitation measures, aimed at enabling Russian SMEs to compete on a global scale.
As the Russian Export Center continues to prioritize the growth of non-energy exports, it is anticipated that more opportunities will arise for local businesses to tap into international markets. This will not only propel economic growth but also enhance the overall resilience and sustainability of the Russian economy.
In conclusion, the surge in the number of non-energy exporters from Russia by 57% over a six-year period underscores the country’s efforts to diversify its export base and reduce dependency on energy-related industries. The expansion of businesses involved in international trade holds significant potential for the Russian economy, as it opens up new avenues for growth and enhances competitiveness in global markets. With continued government support and the active participation of SMEs, Russia is poised to strengthen its position as a key player in the international trade arena.