Russian economy ministry sees smaller 2022 slump, lowers 2023 GDP view



(This content was produced in Russia where the law restricts coverage of Russian military operations in Ukraine)

Aug 16 (Reuters) - Russia's economy will contract less than expected and inflation will not be as high as projected three months ago, the economy ministry forecasts seen by Reuters showed, suggesting the economy is dealing with sanctions better than initially feared.

The economy is plunging into recession after Moscow sent its armed forces into Ukraine on Feb. 24, triggering sweeping Western curbs on its energy and financial sectors, including a freeze of Russian reserves held abroad, and prompting scores of Western companies to leave.

Yet nearly six months since Russia started what it calls a "special military operation", the downturn turns out to be less severe than the economy ministry predicted in mid-May.

The Russian gross domestic product will shrink 4.2% this year and real disposable incomes will fall 2.8% compared with 7.8% and 6.8% declines, respectively, seen three months ago.

At one point, the ministry warned the economy was on track to shrink by more than 12%, in what would be the biggest fall in economic output since the fall of the Soviet Union and a resulting crisis in mid-1990s.

The ministry now sees 2022 year-end inflation at 13.4% and unemployment of 4.8% compared with earlier forecasts of 17.5% and 6.7%, respectively.

GDP forecasts for 2023 are more pessimistic, though, with a 2.7% contraction compared with the previous estimate of 0.7%. This is in line with the central bank's view that the economic downturn will continue for longer than previously thought.

The economy ministry left out forecasts for prices for oil, Russia's key export, in the August set of data and offered no reasons for the revision of its forecasts.

The forecasts are due to be reviewed by the government's budget committee and then by the government itself.

Below is a table with the economy ministry's new forecasts. May 2022 forecasts are in brackets: INDICATOR

2021, 2022

2023

2024

2025

fact

Dollar/rouble rate 73.6

68.1

69.2

72.9

74.8

(76.7) (77.0) (78.7) (81.0) GDP growth, %

+4.7

-4.2

-2.7

+3.7

+2.6

(-7.8) (-0.7) (+3.2) (+2.6) Year-end inflation 8.4

13.4

5.5

4.2

4.0 rate, %

(17.5)

(6.1) ( 4.0)

(4.0) Capital investment +7.7

-10.8

-4.9

+7.0

+3.8 growth, %

(-19.4) (+0.3) (+8.9) (+5.3) Retail trade

+7.3

-6.6

+2.0

+5.6

+2.4 turnover, %

(-8.7) (+2.5) (+4.9) (+3.8) Real wages, %

+2.9

-2.9

+2.6

+3.1

+2.5

(-3.8) (+0.8) (+2.9) (+2.3) Real disposable

+3.0

-2.8

+1.2

+3.5

+2.0 income, %

(-6.8) (+1.3) (+4.3) (+3.0) Unemployment rate, 4.8

4.8

5.2

4.6

4.5 %

(6.7)

(6.6)

(5.4)

(4.5) Exports, billion $ 493.8 585.3

505.4

497.7

494.1

(482.4) (451.6) (450.4) (449.3) Imports, billion $ 304.0 285.7

314.5

328.5

340.5

(251.9) (275.0) (299.5) (320.8) Current account

122.0 239.8

114.9

95.5

82.4 balance, billion $

(190.8) (122.5) (88.3) (67.0)
Reporting by Reuters; Editing by Tomasz Janowski

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