Russia: Higher oil prices benefit the current account balance

3 min
Manfred Stamer
Manfred Stamer Senior Economist for Emerging Europe and the Middle East

First estimates indicate that the current account posted a surplus of +USD26bn in Q3 2018, taking the surplus in Q1-Q3 2018 to +USD76bn (compared to +USD20bn in Q1-Q3 2017). We forecast a surplus close to +USD100bn in 2018 as a whole (+6.5% of GDP). Rising oil prices and higher oil output (as the end-2016 deal by OPEC, Russia and others to curb output was relaxed in June) were the main triggers for the solid data. Nominal exports of goods rose by +30% y/y in Q3 (+28% in Q1-Q3) thanks to surging revenues from oil and oil products (+48% in Q3; +35% in Q1-Q3). Nominal imports of goods declined by -1% y/y in Q3 (+8% in Q1-Q3), likely impacted by the RUB depreciation in the wake of new U.S. sanctions. Meanwhile, net capital outflows amounted to -USD19bn in Q3. While this was the highest since Q2 2015, it is not as bad as this suggests: it compares to -USD17bn in Q1 2018, e.g., and to an average -USD12bn per quarter since 2006, with huge quarterly fluctuations.