After falling sharply in 2015, Armenia’s exports to Russia more than doubled in the first quarter of this year as the Russian ruble gained back some of the value it lost since 2014, according to government data.
The National Statistical Service (NSS) reported over the weekend that Armenia’s total export revenue rose by more than 26 percent year on year to almost $376 million in January-March 2016. Russia generated most of this increase, buying $67.7 million worth of Armenian goods, up from $31.2 million in the year-earlier period.
First-quarter Armenian exports to the European Union were up by only 4.3 percent, at $107.3 million.
Armenia mostly exports agricultural products, prepared foodstuffs, brandy and wine to Russia. NSS data shows significant rises in overall export revenue from these products, which exceeded a total of $93 million in the three-month period. The Russian market may have also contributed to a more than 72 percent surge in exports of textiles, precious metals, refined diamonds and other jewelry items. The NSS put their combined value at about $95 million.
Armenian exports to Russia plummeted by nearly 27 percent in 2015 primarily because of the ruble’s sharp depreciation caused by the collapse of world oil prices. The much weaker ruble more than offset a drastic increase in the physical volume of Armenian fruits and vegetable exported last year. Russia was their principal destination.
Armenian brandy and wine companies, traditionally oriented towards the Russian market, were hit particularly hard. Some of them even suspended their operations a year ago.
The NSS figures show that brandy production in Armenia soared by more than half in physical terms in the first quarter of 2016. The bulk of the most important alcoholic beverage distilled in the country was sold in Russia.
With oil prices beginning to rally in January, the Russian currency has strengthened by nearly 20 percent against the U.S. dollar since the start of this year, translating into more revenue for Armenian exporters. The ruble had lost more than half of its value from June 2014 through the end of 2015.