How Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will ripple through the global economy and affect Australia


When Vladimir Putin turned the first Russian leader to go to Australia – for the 2007 APEC summit in Sydney – I had an opportunity to ask him what he considered Australia.

“I by no means consider Australia,” he replied.

Putin has most likely not considered Australia a lot since, aside from the fuss we remodeled Russian-backed rebels in Ukraine taking pictures down Malaysian Airways MH17 in 2014, and his go to to Brisbane in 2014 for a G20 leaders summit.

Russia and Australia have restricted financial ties. However Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will ripple by means of the worldwide economic system, reaching so far as Australia. Russia’s actions are already affecting issues like petrol costs.

Extra considerably Putin’s belligerence might additional destabilise our already fraught relationship with China, our most necessary buying and selling associate.

So Australia definitely has motive to consider Putin’s actions now.

Russia’s essential function within the international economic system

Measured by gross home product, Russia is the world’s eleventh greatest economic system, simply behind South Korea and in entrance of Brazil. Its 2020 GDP of US$1,646 billion wasn’t a lot larger than Australia’s (in thirteenth spot, with US$1,610 billion).

However Russia issues to the worldwide economic system as a result of, like Australia, it’s a main international provider of pure sources reminiscent of oil, fuel, coal, metals and wheat.

Disruption of those provides might occur by means of Western sanctions on Russia, or by means of Russia chopping off provides – or each.

The intention in both state of affairs is to punish the opposite facet. The impact on the worldwide economic system, already threatened by inflation and COVID-related provide facet shocks, would be the similar.

Learn extra: What Russia’s war means for Australian petrol prices: $2.10 a litre

Count on worldwide value rises

Russia can also be a serious international provider of metals reminiscent of aluminium and palladium, a uncommon and costly metallic utilized in catalytic converters to scale back poisonous exhaust emissions from vehicles and different autos.

Palladium has different necessary makes use of too, together with in hydrogen gasoline expertise. Russia accounts for about 40% of world provide.

Sanctions banning Russian imports will naturally cut back international provide and improve the costs of those sources, in addition to the merchandise created from them.

How a lot of an inflationary impact this causes will depend upon how a lot different suppliers improve their output, or whether or not Russia can improve gross sales to different patrons not collaborating in sanctions. China, for instance, has ended all restrictions on wheat imports from Russia

Putin has constructed sturdy ties with Saudi Arabia, Iran and different oil-producing and non-democratic states as a bulwark in opposition to the West. So changing Russian provides and implementing sanctions successfully gained’t be straightforward.

Europe’s vulnerability

The European Union is especially susceptible to produce shocks, attributable to its heavy reliance on energy imports, with 41% of the pure fuel and 27% of the crude oil it consumes coming from Russia.

For Germany, Europe’s financial powerhouse, about 34% of oil imports and 35% of its fuel imports come from Russia. This makes the German authorities’s choice to halt the Nord Stream 2 fuel pipeline being laid within the Baltic Sea between Russia and Germany a gutsy name.

Given the central function of German manufacturing to European provide chains, disruptions to its vitality provide can have main international financial implications.

The most important dangers for Australia

Within the very quick time period, there could also be some upsides for Australian exporters, reminiscent of wheat farmers.

Russia is the world’s greatest wheat exporter and Ukraine, lengthy generally known as Europe’s bread basket, is the fifth (Australia is sixth).

The seemingly disruption to those provides could be anticipated to extend the world wheat value, as occurred in 2014 when Russia annexed Crimea.

Australia can also be a major natural gas exporter. Nevertheless, as a result of it exports that fuel by ship (as liquefied pure fuel) reasonably than by means of pipelines, there are constraints on it rising exports within the close to time period.

So some Australian exporters who compete with Russian suppliers ought to profit from greater costs within the quick run. However these advantages will quickly be overrun by the opposed impression of world financial disruption.

The most important danger to Australia, although, is that if China decides to observe Russia’s lead.

We noticed on the Beijing Winter Olympics the warming of what has traditionally been a frosty Sino-Russian relationship. Putin and Xi Jinping have a lot in frequent.

If Xi sees the West being divided and weak over Ukraine, because it was over Afghanistan, then he might make issues more durable for Taiwan. This may jeopardise Australia’s commerce with China.

What else could be achieved?

All of the indicators are that Putin is ready to trip out sanctions, playing that he has sufficient reserves to powerful them out or sufficient associates to undermine their effectiveness.

What else could be achieved?

Learn extra: What can the West do to help Ukraine? It can start by countering Putin’s information strategy

One choice is a robust financial strengthening of Ukraine by means of commerce and infrastructure measures. This might embrace the European Union granting Ukraine preferential commerce and funding offers, and the Western allies assuring it beneficial provide of pure sources.

Russia might wish to intimidate, however it doesn’t have the financial power of a united opposition, together with the US, European and Asia-Pacific nations.

There will not be an instantaneous navy resolution, nor a neat diplomatic repair. However the financial dimensions to the disaster could also be extra in favour of Ukraine than first meets the attention.

This text is republished from The Conversation is the world’s main writer of research-based information and evaluation. A singular collaboration between lecturers and journalists. It was written by: Tim Harcourt, University of Technology Sydney.

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Tim Harcourt doesn’t work for, seek the advice of, personal shares in or obtain funding from any firm or organisation that may profit from this text, and has disclosed no related affiliations past their tutorial appointment.

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