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EU trade deficit with Russia grows to €70 bln last year

The European Union last year recorded a trade deficit of nearly €70 billion ($94.8 billion) with Russia owning to large energy bill, the EU's statistics bureau Eurostat said on Tuesday, three days ahead of a EU-Russia summit.

Accounting for over 6% of EU exports and 10% of EU imports, Russia became the third largest trading partner of the 27-nation bloc last year, tailing after the US and China. Between 2000 and 2006, EU exports of goods to Russia more than tripled in value, from €22.7 billion to €72.4 billion, while EU imports from RussiaRussia increased from €41.0 billion in 2000 to €68.2 billion in 2006. The increased deficit was primarily due to an increase in the deficit for energy, only partially offset by an increase in the surplus for machinery and vehicles. Two thirds of EU imports from Russia were energy last year, resulting in a deficit of nearly €94 billion, while machinery and vehicles accounted for almost half of EU exports to Russia, contributing a surplus of more than €32 billion. more than doubled, from €63.8 billion to €140.6 billion. As a result the EU deficit in trade with

Among the 27 member states of the EU, Germany was both the largest exporter and importer for Russia, accounting for 32% and 21% of the respective EU total. The updated figures were released ahead of a EU-Russia summit, which was set to kick off Friday in Samara, Russia as their relations were going through a difficult period.  Energy issue has become a routine topic when EU and Russian leaders met in recent years. The EU wanted to seek assurance from Russia to relieve its concern over the security of energy supply after it suffered from Russia's energy disputes with Belarus and Ukraine. German foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said he hoped that progress on energy security could be made at the summit. However, it was out of the question to start negotiations on a new EU-Russian partnership agreement at the summit since Poland refused to lift a veto against the mandate in retaliation to Russia 's embargo on Polish farm exports. Furthermore, the EU-Russia relations became increasingly restrained recently due to the controversial relocation in Estonia of a Soviet-era statue. (