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Country Forecast Russia February 2018 Updater

Country Forecast Russia February 2018 Updater

  • February 2018
  • ID: 5308416

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  • The Economist Intelligence Unit expects Vladimir Putin, the incumbent, to win the March 2018 presidential election with a large majority in the first round. The principal cause for concern for the authorities will be to maintain a high voter turnout in the absence of credible alternative candidates. Formal political opposition is marginal and will remain so over our forecast period (2018-22).
  • The government is unlikely to implement disruptive market reforms before the presidential election. Chinese companies are likely to take a bigger role in the economy in the forecast period, especially in the far eastern part of the country. However, their access to strategic sectors (such as oil and gas) will be controlled.
  • A rapprochement between the US and Russia is unlikely in 2018-19 given the intense scrutiny of Russia's alleged interference in the 2016 US presidential election campaign and new sanctions imposed by the US against Russia in 2017.
  • We do not expect the Minsk II agreement to lead to a comprehensive settlement of the conflict in eastern Ukraine in our forecast period, and certainly not before the 2019 Ukrainian presidential election.
  • We expect US and EU sectoral sanctions on the Russian defence, energy and financial sectors to remain in place in 2018-22. Russian counter-sanctions on Western food imports will also remain in place over the forecast period.
  • The economy contracted by 0.2% in 2016. We estimate growth of 1.8% in 2017, supported by higher oil prices and a recovery in household consumption.
  • Despite pressure to maintain welfare spending, the government will cut public expenditure in 2018-19 to contain the budget deficit. We forecast a reduction in the government deficit to 0.5% of GDP in 2022, from an estimated 1.5% of GDP in 2017.
  • The current account is structurally in surplus owing to oil and gas exports. We estimate that it equalled 2.1% of GDP in 2017 as global oil prices increased but a stronger rouble against the US dollar weighed on export revenue.
  • The medium-term growth outlook will be constrained by structural weaknesses, including a lack of competition, high state involvement in the economy, international sanctions, an ageing and declining workforce and a weak rule of law. We forecast average annual GDP growth of 1.7% per year in 2019-22.


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