Beyond sanctions: to invest and to export Italian products to Russia

Beyond sanctions: to invest and to export Italian products to Russia

In March 2014, the European Union imposed restrictive measures against Russia in response to the Ukrainian crisis. The Russian Federation responded by imposing measures against the European Union and its Member States (in addition to the United States, Canada, Norway and Australia). The European sanctions against Russia have been extended until 15 September 2018, following the Council decision of 12 March 2018. In October 2017, the Russian Federation has extended sanctions against the European Union until 31 December 2018.


Russian measures affect certain agricultural products, raw materials and food products (including meat, poultry, fruit and vegetables). Alcoholic beverages, pasta, sweets, childcare products and goods purchased abroad for private consumption are excluded.


Despite the sanctions, the Russian Federation remains for Italy one of the main markets for exports, especially for sectors of excellence and quality of Made in Italy such as fashion, furniture, footwear and ceramics. In 2016, Italy exported goods to Russia for about 7 billion €, while imports reached 10,6 billion € (data source: Istat-ICE). The exchange (17,6 billion € in 2016) places Italy in the sixth place among the commercial partners of the Russian Federation both for exports and imports and in the second place in Europe (behind Germany).


In the last few years, Russia has focused its attention on attracting foreign investments to stimulate technological innovation, development and modernisation in many sectors of its industry. The “import substitution plan”, although has the reduction of imports and the creation of a Made in Russia among its objectives, is open to the participation of foreign companies. The Government of the Russian Federation has created both at the federal and regional level the “Special Economic Zones”, areas aimed at attracting foreign investments thanks to tax and infrastructural incentives. To facilitate investments, both Russian and foreign, in some sectors – e.g. machinery, metallurgy, chemistry, healthcare and electronics – Russia has introduced the “special investment contract” to finance the creation of new plant or to modernize the existing ones.


Italian companies wishing to invest and export to Russia must rely on Russian partners (e.g. by setting up joint ventures or subsidiaries) or on a Russian custom representative (broker) for custom clearance of goods. Italian banks in Russia also offer a wide range of services to entrepreneurs and make use of institutional actors such as SACE and Simest.


For additional information on the opportunities offered by the Russian Federation market, is possible to contact the Italian Embassy (, the ICE office in Moscow and the Italian-Russian Chamber of Commerce (


Internationalisation and export, Small and medium enterprises