what does Russia make?

In the waning days of Communism, it seemed as if all the Soviet Union made that anyone else wanted to purchase were Matryoshka doll sets. In reality, the USSR was exporting oil and natural gas. Drops in their market value helped end the regime.

It occurred to me that I couldn’t think of anything that post-Communist Russia makes that anyone else wants to buy, apart from oil and gas–but that could be a prejudice on my part. The Observatory of Economic Complexity allows you to check the real story. More than half of Russia’s exports are oil and gas, and almost 100% are raw materials or other inputs to industrial or food processes, such as sawn wood and fish. The biggest category of finished goods that I can find is gas turbines, valued at $1.5 billion (total). Nuclear reactors follow at $1.27 billion. By way of contrast, Canada also has vast natural resources, but it exports $47 billion worth of cars and $7 billion worth of aircraft, among many other finished products.

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About Peter

Associate Dean for Research and the Lincoln Filene Professor of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Tufts University's Tisch College of Civic Life. Concerned about civic education, civic engagement, and democratic reform in the United States and elsewhere.