Russia’s economy is on the mend.
The country is recovering nicely from a recession and should see economic growth of 1.4% this year, according to a new report by the International Monetary Fund.
Russia is heavily dependent on oil exports and was hit hard when crude prices started to crash in 2014. Economic sanctions imposed by Western governments as punishment for Russia taking control of Ukraine’s Crimea region dealt the economy another blow.
Recession followed, Russia’s currency — the ruble — was slammed, and many people were hit hard by austerity. Now things are looking up.
“The economy is exiting a two year recession that, thanks to the authorities’ effective policy response and the existence of robust buffers, proved shallower than past downturns,” IMF staff wrote in the report.
Oil prices slumped to $26 a barrel early last year, but have since bounced back to around $50, thanks partly to production cuts introduced by OPEC producers such as Saudi Arabia and Russia itself.
The IMF welcomed Moscow’s plan to bring down its budget deficit, rebuild foreign currency reserves, privatize some state-owned companies and purge weak banks from the financial system.
But it warned that the lingering effects of sanctions could still deter investment, and Russia’s government needed to pursue a much wider reform agenda to reduce the economy’s dependence on oil and other commodities.
Over the next few years, the IMF expects Russia’s economy to grow by about 1.5%. That compares with growth rates of more than 3.5% between 2010 and 2012.