Russia posts record current account surplus of $227 billion in 2022

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National flag flies over the Russian Central Bank headquarters in Moscow

(Reuters) -Russia’s current account surplus hit a record high in 2022, the central bank said on Tuesday, as a fall in imports and robust oil and gas exports kept foreign money flowing in despite Western efforts to isolate the Russian economy.

Russia’s current account – a measure of the difference between all money coming into a country through trade, investment and transfers, and what flows back out – came in at $227.4 billion, up 86% from 2021.

Russian imports fell sharply last year amid an exodus of Western firms after the West imposed sweeping sanctions on Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine.

But the Kremlin has sought to replace revenues lost from its oil and gas exports to Europe with a pivot to China, India and other Asian countries.

Trade between Russia and China hit a record high of $190 billion last year, Chinese customs data showed.

As imports fell, Moscow’s trade balance – the difference between total exports and imports – swelled to $282.3 billion in 2022, up from $170.1 billion the previous year.

The central bank said higher commodity prices throughout 2022 had helped push the current account higher, while imports slowly recovered in the second half of the year.

Russia’s export revenues are set to come under fresh pressure in 2023 as Western and Japanese sanctions on Russian oil come into full effect.

The Group of Seven major economies will expand an oil embargo beyond crude to include Russian oil products from Feb. 5.

Analysts say this could lead to a reduction in Russian oil output of up to 1 million barrels per day (bpd) in the first quarter of 2023.

An official forecast sees Russia’s output of oil products falling sharply this year to 230 million tonnes from 272 million, according to a senior Russian source.

(Reporting by Jake Cordell and Caleb Davis; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

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