Problems with imports do not spoil the mood of industrialists

Problems with imports do not spoil the mood of industrialists


Against the backdrop of stagnation of product output in a number of sectors (see Kommersant on April 1), market surveys continue to record renewal of multi-year maximums in company optimism. According to a survey from independent economist Sergei Tsukhlo (formerly the Gaidar Institute), the actual level of demand in March was close to the pre-war levels of early 2022. At the same time, optimism in forecasts of future demand is being restored – we are apparently talking about the reaction of companies to large-scale budget injections at the beginning of the year. Output grew in March, and plans to increase it also increased. A small but persistently positive inventory surplus remains. Even the problem of staff shortages in the sector seems to be becoming less acute. In the first quarter, companies reported a slowdown in employee growth and expected this to continue in the future. The same applies to salary levels. “Perhaps the wage race at the end of 2023 turned out to be too gambling and did not meet employers’ hopes of attracting new workers from the current labor market through wages,” says the author of the study.

A comparison of the results of two of its surveys (from April 2022 and from March 2024) on the consequences of a reduction in imports and the departure of Western manufacturers from the country shows that the most common effect remains an increase in costs due to the lack of alternative suppliers (see chart). However, the actual scale of the negative phenomena turned out to be less than expected. The growth of import-substituting demand, according to surveys, is in third or fourth place in the list of consequences; its actual scale is slightly higher than previously expected. The technological chains have also changed in a similar way. Industrialists managed to avoid a massive shutdown of imported equipment due to the impossibility of its maintenance and repair. One of the reasons for this was larger-than-planned domestic investments in import-substituting demand and a less massive than expected departure of manufacturers from Russia. The largest positive discrepancies between the two forecasts were found in assessing the impact on output of the impossibility of replacing components and the lack of suppliers in “friendly” countries.

Artem Chugunov


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