German exports to Russia drop 62% as sanctions take their toll

German exports to Russia fell 62.3% in March from the previous month, government statistics showed on Wednesday, as sanctions aimed at starving the Russian economy as punishment for President Vladimir V. Putin to invade Ukraine have imposed themselves.

The European Union and the United States have imposed increasingly severe economic sanctions on Russia since the February 24 invasion, and Brussels is expected to adopt a set of additional measures, including an oil ban plan, d here the end of the week.

The sharp decline in exports to Russia reflects the close economic ties forged between the two countries over the past decades. Many German companies, including Volkswagen, have stopped exporting their products to Russia.

But German companies nevertheless sold goods worth 1 billion euros (about $1.06 billion) to Russia in March, as some companies not affected by the sanctions were reluctant to cut ties with the country. country. Packaged drugs are among the most important items that Russia continues to purchase from Germany. In addition to food, seeds and medical equipment, they remained sanction-free.

Bayer, the chemicals and healthcare products giant, has halted all spending in Russia and Belarus but continues to sell essential products in both countries. The company has come under pressure from peace activists and pro-Ukrainian groups for its decision, which it defended in a statement citing its ethical responsibility.

“Withholding essential health and agricultural products for civilian populations – such as treatments for cancer or cardiovascular disease, health products for pregnant women and children, and seeds to grow food – would only multiply the toll of the war in human lives,” the company said.

Overall, German exports for the month were down 3.3% from February, the Federal Statistical Office said. Unlike March 2021, when the country was emerging from a lockdown aimed at preventing the spread of the coronavirus, overall exports improved by more than 8 percent, he said.

Germany is the world’s third largest exporter, after China and the United States, according to the World Trade Organization. The United States remains Germany’s most important market abroad, and Americans imported 3.2% more goods, worth 11.5 billion euros, in March compared to the last month.

James R. Rhodes