Russia’s earnings from tech exports have jumped more than threefold over the last two years, according to a new report from Moscow’s Higher School of Economics (HSE), reports East-West Digital News (EWDN).
The export sales of scientific and technology services and IP-protected products reached $4.5bn in 2020 – up 30% from 2019, three times more than in 2018, and fifteen to twenty times more than in the early 2000s.
Stucture of Russian technology imports and exports by contract categories (in %, 2020)
Despite the jump in exports, the global competitiveness of Russian-made technology is difficult to assess. The largest market for Russia’s technology exports in 2020, accounting for almost $1bn or a quarter of all sales, was the Netherlands – a low-tax jurisdiction where a number of Russia’s top digital companies, including Yandex and X5 Retail Group, are registered.
The US, Germany, Switzerland, China and Belarus also accounted for more than $250mn of Russian exports each.
Imports of foreign-made technology were stagnant in 2020 at $4.6bn, bringing the technology trade deficit – the difference between Russian exports and imports of tech goods and services – to its lowest level since 2001.
Russia fears its reliance on Western technology – ranging from payment cards to computer operating systems – is a potential vulnerability should the West decide to levy more penalties on the country. It is also concerned foreign intelligence services could gain access to crucial Russian systems running on foreign software.
The Russian government on Wednesday introduced new rules banning the purchase of foreign-made laptops, tablets, servers and circuit boards in government contracts.
This article first appeared in East-West Digital News (EWDN), a bne IntelliNews partner publication.