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German exports to Russia plunge to lowest in two decades

BERLIN (Reuters) - German exports to Russia plummeted last year to levels not seen since 2003, according to data seen by Reuters on Tuesday, as sanctions targeting Moscow for the war in Ukraine took their toll on once-close ties.

German exports to Russia slumped by 45% year-on-year to 14.6 billion euros ($15.9 billion) in 2022, according to preliminary data from the German Committee on Eastern European Economic Relations.

Imports from Russia, however, grew by 11% to about 37 billion euros due to high oil and gas prices, the group said in its report.

Germany's trade deficit with Russia climbed to a record level of around 22 billion euros as a result, the group's executive director Michael Harms said.

The plunge in exports to Russia was most visible in motor vehicles and automotive parts, as well as electrical engineering products, Harms added, while pharmaceutical products and agricultural machinery, sectors which have been excluded from European Union sanctions, remained the top exports.

"The outlook for export business with Russia remains bleak," Harms said, adding that goods exports to Russia were likely to settle at a low level in 2023.

He said he expected the trade deficit to decline significantly now that Germany was importing almost no energy raw materials from Russia.

($1 = 0.9202 euros)

(Reporting by Rene Wagner, writing by Maria Martinez, editing by Rachel More and Vin Shahrestani)