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Trade between EU and Ukraine shows economic resilience through Russian invasion

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 disrupted the flow of goods between the European Union and eastern European trade partners.

(CN) — Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 initially cut trade with the European Union in half, but the flow of goods from member states to Ukraine largely recovered over the course of the year, according to data published by Eurostat on Wednesday.

The report focuses on the percentage of goods traded between the EU and Ukraine, rather than economic value or actual volume.

EU trade with Ukraine has been strongly affected since the start of Russia's invasion, with an initial strong disruption recorded between February and March 2022, when the share of Ukraine with respect to extra-EU flows dropped for both imports and exports,” explained the report. “However, in December 2022, the share of Ukraine in extra-EU exports was above the pre-war level.”

The blue line represents Ukrainian exports to the European Union, while the red line represents Ukrainian imports (eurostat).

Between March 2022 and December, Ukrainian exports to the EU even rose slightly above pre-war levels. European imports from Ukraine remain slightly below pre-war levels, but demonstrate a drastic rebound over the last year.

Overall, the EU imported smaller percentages of Ukrainian maize, rapeseed, iron and steel, and sunflower oil in 2022 compared to the previous year.

In 2021, the EU imported almost 90% of its sunflower oil from Ukraine. In 2022 however, EU consumption of Ukrainian sunflower oil fell by nearly 8%, as member states sourced just 80% of their sunflower oil from Ukraine.

By the fourth quarter of 2022, however the EU imported 88% of its sunflower oil from Ukraine, up four points from the end of 2021. EU members additionally source sunflower oil from Serbia and Moldova.

At the same time, the EU reported importing slightly higher percentages of soybean oil and wood from Ukraine in 2022 compared to 2021.

While the EU imported less iron and steel from Ukraine, imports of the good also decreased from Russia. In the fourth quarter of 2021, the EU sourced 14% of iron and steel from Russia, and 8% from Ukraine. One year later, the EU imported just 6% of iron and steel from Russia, and 4% from Ukraine. 

During the same period, the share of the EU's imported iron and steel from China jumped from 5% to 12%.

The report also noted inflation affected the value of goods and their rates of trade.

Following Russia’s invasion, many Ukrainian imports from the EU decreased including leather goods, knitted fabrics, tobacco, and cocoa. Ukraine imported slightly more coffee, tea and spices from the EU during the first year of the Russian war.

As the economy continues to bend in the winds of the war, the EU declared solidarity with Ukraine.

"Ukraine has become the center of our continent,” said Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, in a statement. “The place where our values are upheld, where our freedom is defended, where the future of Europe is written.”

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