Two thirds of the increase in imports from Russia is due to rising prices. However, Portugal did buy a larger quantity of Russian goods, even with the sanctions.
The doubt arose when the National Statistics Institute (INE) released the March international trade in goods data, in which it was apparent that Portugal paid 45% more for Russian imports compared to the pre-Covid figure (March 2019). After a technical analysis, the statistics office revealed to ECO that the biggest culprit for this rise was the increase in prices, but it also shows that Portugal bought a greater amount of Russian goods in the first month of the war, despite the sanctions.
The analysis by INE experts shows that 67.4% of the increase in the volume of imports from Russia in March is explained by rising prices. In that month the prices of energy, especially oil and gas, soared because of the potential impacts of the war in Ukraine, reinforcing the upward trend that had already been going on for months due to the reopening of the economy.
However, 17.9% of the increase is explained by the variation in volume, i.e., by the larger quantity of Russian goods that Portugal bought that month, compared to the past. The goal of the European Union countries with the introduction of sanctions on the Kremlin was to penalize the economy to weaken its military capacity, but Europe's energy dependence on Russia makes this task difficult.
These data are not deflated, i.e., the numbers reflect not only the increase in the quantity imported but also the price variation, so it would be important to have this additional analysis on the causes of the increase in imports from Russia.