Correcting the Record on Russian Propaganda on Trade

Letter to Der Spiegel (published in the print version June 6, 2015)
Ambassador John B. Emerson

The article “Auszeit vom Kalten Krieg” makes the false claim that United States companies are benefitting from sanctions imposed on Russia.  The authors base their assertions on questionable statistics from Russian sources.  I would like to provide missing pieces to present a more accurate picture of the effect of sanctions on trade between Russia, the EU, and the United States.

While Russian State Customs statistics claim U.S. exports to Russia grew in 2014, U.S. Census Bureau statistics show a decline of 3.3 percent from 2013 export figures.  The decline has become more pronounced in 2015.  The article states that in the first two months of 2015, foreign trade between the EU and Russia decreased by one-third, compared to the same period in the year before, while trade in goods between the U.S. and Russia only decreased by six percent.  However, U.S. Census data indicate that when comparing the first quarter of 2015 with the first quarter of 2014, U.S. exports to Russia were down 32% and total trade was down 29%.  Russia’s own customs data shows declines of 21% and 17% respectively.

The authors ignore the fact that many U.S. companies in the oil and gas sector had large programs in Russia that had to be curtailed due to sanctions.  They imply that Boeing is unfairly profiting by conducting business with the Russian titanium producer VSMPO-Avisma and that the U.S. company Orbital Services has an ongoing deal with the Russian company Energomash.  Neither Energomash nor Avisma are on the sanctions list.  Avisma is in fact a partner with Airbus, the EU’s leading aircraft manufacturer.

I hope in the future Der Spiegel will contact me through our Embassy press office when publishing articles about U.S. policies and interests.  We will make every effort to provide you accurate information on important issues