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Tenfold Increase of Chinese Exports of Numerical Control Machine Tools to Russia

A worried article in the Jan. 2 Financial Times reported that there has been a sharp increase in Chinese exports of advanced machine tools to Russia. “Chinese shipments to Russia of an important class of advanced machine tools have increased tenfold since the full-scale invasion of Ukraine, with the country’s producers now dominating trade in high-precision `computer numerical control’ devices vital to Moscow’s military industries.”

Machine-tools, the machines that make other machines, are critical to any industrialized economy. Computer numerical control (CNC) tools permit extremely precise metal-working and other processes, and therefore are capable of increasing physical-economic productivity across the economy—and not just in the defense sector.

FT fretted: “Russian imports of CNC tools from the EU, historically its main source, have dramatically fallen as restrictions have tightened since February 2022…. Chinese-origin CNC devices made up 57% of Russian imports by value in July, up from just 12% before the war.”