Despite the overall decline, American purchases of nuclear fuel, fertilizers, and platinum group metals have remained strong
Trade turnover between Russia and the US plummeted to its lowest level in July since the start of the Ukraine conflict, the RBK news outlet reported on Monday, citing data from the US Census Bureau.
According to the bureau, trade turnover amounted to $277.3 million at the end of July. That figure is 11 times less than the one recorded in February 2022, and almost 13 times less than the amount for July 2021, the year when the US ranked fifth among Russia’s largest trading partners.
The July reading was also the lowest since statistics were first available in the early 2000s.
Russian exports currently account for nearly 90% of turnover between the two countries, and mostly consist of nuclear fuel, mineral fertilizers, and platinum group metals. The three categories accounted for $2.5 billion of the $3 billion worth of goods purchased by the US from Russia in the first seven months of 2023. Meanwhile, US exports to Russia shrank to $36 million at the end of July.
Trade turnover declined sharply after Washington imposed sweeping sanctions on Moscow in response to its military operation in Ukraine. Last spring, the US banned imports of Russian oil products, diamonds, and seafood. It later placed additional tariffs on imports of Russian steel, aluminum products, rubber, wood, and other goods. As a result, US imports of ferrous metals from Russia have declined to almost zero.
However, the US has been reluctant to target Russia’s nuclear fuel exports as they play a key role in keeping America’s civilian nuclear reactors running. Moscow was Washington’s largest supplier of enriched uranium in the first seven months of 2023, US foreign trade statistics showed. As of 2022, Russia accounted for about 12% of total US uranium imports, the third biggest market share after Canada and Kazakhstan.
Russia’s exports of platinum group metals to the US also remained strong. While shipments of palladium for the whole of 2022 amounted to roughly $1.39 billion, deliveries in January-July reached $701 million. The metal is used in the production of semiconductors, as well as in the automotive industry.
Russia has also been America’s second-largest supplier of fertilizers so far in 2023, exporting a record $944 million worth of the product between January and July. Canada topped the list with $2.8 billion, while Saudi Arabia and Qatar made up the other top five largest suppliers.