The Russian economy is usually scolded – they say that in difficult years all the factories were cut for scrap, and now everything has to be imported from other countries. In fact, not everything is so bad – the country has a powerful industry that produces a wide range of products – both for business and for end users. We tried to tell you about the most interesting things that are produced in Russia and are in demand on the world market.
Raw materials – the basis of the economy?
Everyone knows that Russia’s economy is built on oil and gas. Of course, not completely, but it is fluctuations in the world commodity markets that have a particularly strong impact on the Russian economy. It is enough to recall December 2014 and March 2020, when the ruble fell after oil prices without any questions.
Russia produces and exports several types of oil – there are both light (expensive) and heavier sulfurous ones. The latter includes the key Russian oil grade Urals – it is usually traded at a discount to the North sea marker grade Brent, but this year the picture was even reversed, and Urals was a couple of dollars more expensive than Brent.
But not everything is tied to the oil itself. Russia has a strong oil refining industry that supplies consumers at home and abroad with oil products. For example, if you look at the approximate product range of Lukoil, the list will be extensive:
- Euro-5 petrol and diesel;
- liquefied petroleum gas (autogas that is not CNG or LNG) natural gas;
- bitumen, fuel oil, coke;
- a range of engine and transmission oils for almost any type of transport;
- commercial, industrial, and other oils and lubricants;
- a range of petrochemical industry – nitrile, vinyl acetate, polypropylene, polyethylene, etc.
All of this and much more is produced by only one (and private) company in the same industry. In general, there are many industries in the extractive industry, and Russia produces many other things: coal, ore, phosphates, fertilisers, rubber, plywood, cellulose, ferrous and non-ferrous metals, alloys, fabrics, cellulose, etc.
To put it simply, a significant part of the raw materials that are used in industrial production in Russia were also extracted or produced domestically, and a significant part of all this is also exported.
Transport for every taste
Russian automobile production is not only AvtoVAZ with its “Granta” and “Vesta” and not only UAZ with its “Bukhanka”. Already more than 90% of new cars that are sold in Russia are produced inside the country. We are talking about all brands and models – in Russia there are several powerful car factories, some of which were built recently.
In Saint Petersburg alone there are 4 automobile plants (and 1 more in the region), they belong to Hyundai, Nissan, Toyota, General Motors, and Ford Sollers. In total, there are more than 15 large automobile factories alone in Russia, which assemble almost everything that Russians drive. Of course, not everything goes smoothly – the GM plant is mothballed, and Ford has officially left Russia. But, for example, only last year a plant of the Chinese brand Haval (Great Wall) was launched in the Tula region, BMW is being assembled in Kaliningrad, Volkswagen Jetta and Skoda Octavia are being assembled at the GAZ plant in Nizhny Novgorod, and Renault Duster and Kaptur are being assembled in Moscow. Not far from Moscow, a Mercedes factory was built, where the E-Class is produced.
By the way, many factories have long mastered full-cycle production – this is when the factory welds and paints bodies, or even builds engines.
However, it is not limited to cars. Russia has a very powerful railway production. For example, Russia produces mainline and passenger locomotives, electric trains, wagons, and auxiliary units.
Most of the production is concentrated in several companies:
- Transmashholding – produces mainline freight electric locomotives (2ES5K, 2ES4K), passenger (two-system EP20, working on alternating current EP1M and DC EP2K), mainline diesel locomotives (2TE25KM) and passenger (TEP70BS), switchers (TEM), electric trains (EP2D, EG2TV-“Ivolga”), rail buses (RA-3), passenger cars of all classes, special wagons, and many other products;
- Sinara – switchers (TEM and TGM), freight electric locomotives of direct and alternating current (2ES10, 2ES7), electric trains (ES2G – “Lastochka“), various types of track equipment, trucks, cranes, other special trainsm and diesel engines;
- Uralvagonzavod – in addition to passenger and freight cars, it produces individual elements for them, as well as a wide range of military equipment.
In other words, railway equipment in Russia is almost all Russian-made (except for part of the “Sapsan” trains that were purchased from Siemens), and much of it is exported.
With the aircraft industry, the situation is slightly worse, the only fully completed commercial project is the SSJ-100, which has complaints due to an accident and a number of emergency situations (although there are still orders for this model). But the United Aircraft Corporation has a project for the near future – a medium-range MS-21, which still looks quite promising.
In addition, Russian aircraft manufacturers produce military and special air equipment, and much more.
Shipbuilding is no less large-scale – the United Shipbuilding Corporation has various projects in its portfolio. This includes tugs, tankers, icebreakers, and even a floating nuclear power plant. With the transition to the policy of import substitution, Russian shipbuilders started to receive more government orders (in fact, they mostly survive off orders).
Important mechanical engineering
If cars and trains are used by almost everyone, and aircraft and shipbuilding are often talked about on TV, then most of the achievements of Russian engineering remain unknown to the layman. Perhaps in vain – this also has its own achievements.
For example, the company “Atommash” from Volgodonsk is one of the few manufacturers of equipment for nuclear reactors in the world. It produces reactor vessels, steam generators, and other units, and during the year it is possible to produce 8 sets of equipment. VVER-1200 and VVER-TOI reactors are exported to Belarus, Turkey, and India.
Nuclear power is not the end of the matter, there are several manufacturers of power equipment in Russia:
- Power Machines – together with Siemens, it produces power units for thermal power plants and hydroelectric power plants that go not only to Russian power facilities, but also abroad. The holding company includes many enterprises – “Elektrosila”, the Leningrad Metal Plant, the Turbine Blade Plant, and much more;
- Ural Turbine Plant – produces steam and gas turbines. For example, one of the developments is the world’s most powerful heat-generating turbine T-295/335-23.5, which has enough power to heat 100,000 apartments;
- Rostec – a state corporation that unites almost all technological production in Russia (700 organisations).
Russia produces engines for various purposes – aircraft, tank, rocket, and others. Most of the companies are part of the United Engine Corporation. One of the key projects is the PD-14 aircraft turbofan engine, which can take a good place in the market. The PD-14 was launched into mass production only in March 2020.
Good positions can be found in other areas of mechanical engineering in Russia – for example, the Ural Heavy Machinery Plant produces walking excavators, and the Ural Instrument-making Plant produces ventilators (which is very much in demand in 2020).
Finally, the “Rostselmash” plant, which produces almost all the equipment needed in agricultural production (and simultaneously buys up factories around the world), has taken a good pace of production.
What everyone knows – electronics and home appliances
It would seem that Russia and precision electronics are incompatible concepts, at least, almost nothing is produced from consumer electronics in the country. This is partly true, most of the computer equipment comes to Russia from China, but we still have our own production. For example, this is the development and production of the “Baikal” and “Elbrus” processors, as well as other productions.
For example, in Russia there are several large enterprises that produce various types of electronics:
- Research and production association “TsTS” – contract production of electronics in Kaliningrad. It produces 2% of the world’s production of set-top boxes for digital TV (most of the “Tricolour” set-top boxes in the homes of Russians are produced there);
- “Rezonit” – contract manufacturer of printed circuit boards, including mounting elements. Production is constantly expanding, there are already 3 sites and a fourth is being built;
- A-Contract – designs and manufactures printed circuit boards of any kind, including assembly of components and installation in the device casing;
- StarLine – a very well-known manufacturer of alarm systems, recently also engaged in contract production and built a full-cycle production complex in the Leningrad region;
- “Promsvyaz” – from Yekaterinburg, and is also a contract manufacturing company, where they are ready to produce even cables and loops, and perform turning and milling operations;
- “Orbita I” – a Swedish company-owned production facility in the Kaliningrad region. it has both automatic printed circuit boards and non-standard manual assembly.
In fact, these manufacturers are ready to master the production of almost anything – they work as contract manufacturers. For example, one of the plants – “Telebalt” in Kaliningrad – produces TVs of the world’s leading brands, recently they started to produce TVs of Xiaomi (which was originally a Chinese company, but production in Russia turned out to be more profitable).
But there are also less well-known companies whose products are used by customers all over Russia. For example, not the most popular branch of kitchen appliances has several large enterprises:
- ELIKOR – produces kitchen extraction hoods using Italian technologies. The range includes hundreds of models, and every year the company in Kaluga produces up to 500,000 hoods (probably covering almost the entire market with this volume);
- Darina – a well-known brand of kitchen stoves and built-in appliances. This all belongs to the company “Gazprom household systems”, and the plant in the Perm region was built by a German firm;
- Penza Production Association EVT – produces equipment under the brands De luxe and Electronicsdeluxe. Production is serious – there are welding, foundry, and plastic production, glass processing and punching of parts;
- “Aksion” motor plant in Izhevsk – in addition to automotive components and medical equipment, it produces household appliances, including hair dryers, blenders, coffee grinders, dryers, etc. Directly at the factory, we have developed our own models of meat grinders and juicers, which are of high quality;
- “Lysva” – production of gas and electric stoves of more than 50 models. There are no innovative models, but most of the range is time-tested equipment for moderate money;
- Altai instrument-making plant “Rotor” from Barnaul – in addition to products for the defence industry, it produces meat grinders, dryers, goods for motorists, etc. under the brands “Rotor” and “Katun”;
- Zlatoust machine-building plant – produces not only small arms, but also cookers under the brand “Mechta”. Works in the budget segment, engaged in cookers since 1967.
And this is only a very small part of what is produced in Russia from machinery. In fact, any large and heavy piece of equipment will be produced inside Russia – otherwise it will be simply unprofitable to import it due to high customs duties. Perhaps this policy made it possible to develop Russian production of household appliances.
Building materials that are in demand everywhere
Those times when “European-style renovation” with European building mate gradually become a thing of the past. Now almost everything that is needed in construction and repair is made in Russia. Imports are mostly things that are simply impossible to make in Russia – for example, Italian marble.
A significant part of the production of building materials is exported, and here Russia is ahead of many countries in the world. For example, Russia exports asbestos – although it is considered a carcinogen in the west, sales remain record high. Here’s what else they export from Russia:
- bituminous roof;
- facing tiles and finishing ceramics;
- prefabricated building structures;
- safety glass and mirrors;
- polymer coatings and linoleum;
- building mixes and gypsum;
- ceramic sanitary ware;
- building bricks and cement bonded particle boards;
- varnishes, paints, wallpapers, and much more.
Some companies, thanks to the development of technology, were able to capture almost the entire free market. For example, “Tekhnonikol” supplies its products to 95 countries around the world: stone wool, flexible tiles, waterproofing materials, polymer membranes, mastics, mounting foam, and many other products. There are other well-known names outside of Russia – for example, ceramics manufacturers “Kerama Marazzi”, “Italon”, “Etyma”, “Frilayt”, etc. Even construction glass is actively exported from Russia – already in 2017, its exports exceeded imports manyfold.
Manufacturers and researchers are already looking to the future and developing several new types of building materials that can create and conquer the market in the future. For example, the Far Eastern Federal University has invented electricity-permeable concrete. Its scope is the creation of concrete surfaces that will simultaneously serve as heaters.
Russian products that everyone wants
After 2014, the sphere of food security in Russia started to turn in the opposite direction – instead of increasing food imports, the main role was given to Russian farmers. The success of the import substitution policy can be debated for a long time, but Russia has long supplied some types of food to the markets of different countries – first of all, wheat (to Egypt, Turkey, Bangladesh, and other countries), fish and seafood, fat and oil products, starch, tobacco, vegetables, sugar, and much more.
Of course, we can not say that there are no problems with food security – Russia still exports agricultural raw materials, and abroad buys more value-added products. But foreign trade is turning towards Asia and the Middle East – for example, exports to Turkey and China are growing. However, 2/3 of food supplies abroad are wheat, fish and sunflower oil.
It will be all the more interesting to look at those Russian products that have already found markets for themselves abroad:
- Confectionery products. The Russian division of the holding company “Mars” exports the most, but the products of the factories “Slavyanka” and “Rot Front” are also popular. Most of the sweets go to China (about half), with Germany in second place;
- Meat products. Russia is one of the five largest pork producers in the world, which was especially important during the ASF outbreak in some countries of the world. In addition, poultry meat is actively exported to the CIS countries, China, Egypt, and Africa;
- Bay leaf. It is exported to China, Canada, USA, Germany, UAE, and other countries;
- Fish product. This is now forming the basis for exports to the USA;
- Dairy products. Due to the reduced shelf life, it is exported to the nearest countries – Belarus and Kazakhstan.
Many Russian brands are known all over the world – for example, vodka “Five Lakes”, “Russian standard”, or “Beluga”; confectionery “Babaevsky” or “Red October”, “Nevsky Confectioner”, and many other companies.
By the way, the state can help with exports, including food products. There is a Russian Export Center in Russia that has a program to promote Russian brands abroad. The REC will cover part of the costs of marketing, delivery, and even participation in exhibitions, so in the future, Russian food companies will be more widely represented abroad.
Medications, and not just for the coronavirus
Even before the start of the coronavirus pandemic, Russian pharmacists started to actively increase sales of medicines abroad. For example, 400 million packages of medicines worth 20 billion rubles were exported in just 9 months (with the exception of exports to the EEU countries).
In Russia, there are some rather dubious developments (such as “Arbidol” or “Kagotsel”, the effectiveness of which has not yet been proven according to all the rules of evidence-based medicine), but Russian drugs against cancer and autoimmune diseases are in demand in the world. Mainly, exports go to the countries of the former USSR, Africa, and Latin America.
Among the names of drugs that Russian companies have brought to international markets – “Fortek”, “Efleira”, “Polyoxidonium”, “Piratsetam”, “Actovegin”, and many others. For example, Africa receives the most yellow fever vaccines, while Europe receives the most immunomodulators.
As for the cure for coronavirus, it has not yet been invented [update: this article was written on 06.08.2020, but as of 11.08.2020, this is no longer true – ed]. For example, the drug “Avifavir” is called the first Russian drug for COVID-19, but it is a Japanese development for fighting the flu “Favipiravir”, and it’s not very successful.
However, Russia has already started exporting – so far only to Belarus and Kazakhstan, but the manufacturer has serious plans for other CIS countries and the Middle East.
And everything that surrounds us
The story of what is produced in Russia will not be complete without the simplest household items. For example, most of the furniture in any apartment or house is probably Russian-made. Moreover, it is most often made of chipboard produced in Russia, with Russian fittings (although there are already imports) and Russian fabrics. Doors (entrance and interior) will also be Russian.
Most of the kitchen utensils are also most likely produced in Russia – all sorts of pots are simply unprofitable to import due to high customs duties, they are easier to produce locally. All kitchen plastic, electrics (but not electronics), all sorts of household items and home decoration – most often also made in Russia.
Plumbing in the bathroom, probably made in Russia – as well as household chemicals. All of this is often more profitable to produce in the country – even if the washing powder or dishwashing liquid is from a foreign brand.
Engineering systems in the house -water, sewerage, gas, and electricity – are built from Russian components, as well as elevators installed in high-rise buildings (except premium class elevators).
If you [a Russian – ed] leave your home and take public transport, it will also be Russian-made (even if the components are imported, the assembly is still Russian).
In other words, it is not so difficult to find something that is produced in Russia from the beginning to the end. Perhaps due to the fact that in the difficult 90s, not all production facilities were closed, and in more prosperous years, new enterprises appeared.
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