German exports to Russia plunged in 2022, uncoupling seen continuing: Business group

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German exports to Russia plummeted dramatically in 2022, as European Union sanctions targeted Moscow for the war in Ukraine and German companies ended their businesses in the country, the German Eastern Business Association said Tuesday.

German exports to Russia slumped by 45 percent year-on-year to close to 15 billion euros in 2022, its lowest level in two decades, the association said.

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“The disentanglement from the Russian market is progressing rapidly and will continue in 2023,” Michael Harms, managing director of the German Eastern Business Association, said at the group’s spring press conference in Berlin.

While the German economy has succeeded surprisingly quickly in adapting to a world without Russian energy supplies, the Russian economy is heading into a crisis, according to the German Eastern Business Association. Although the Russian economy will not collapse overnight, Harms said “the sanctions, the withdrawal of foreign companies and the exodus of hundreds of thousands of young workers are having a toxic effect.”

The decline in exports to Russia was more than offset by double-digit export increases to other markets in Central and Eastern Europe, Harms said. German trade with Central and Eastern Europe climbed to a new high of 562 billion euros in 2022.

As a result, the 29 countries of Central and Eastern Europe thus continued to contribute a good 18 percent of total German foreign trade, again more than China and the United States combined, according to the German Eastern Business Association.

With a decline of just 7 percent in 2022, trade with Ukraine has slumped less than would have been expected in view of the dramatic situation and has even been on the road to recovery since late fall, Harms said.

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