On Saturdays, traffic peaks at Storskog border checkpoint. Photo: Thomas Nilsen

Best January in four years

21,880 crossings at the Russian-Norwegian border, up 6% compared with January last year.
February 02, 2018

With Russian Christmas in January comes a queue of people from the Murmansk region driving to Norway for shopping. Statistics from the border checkpoint is a good indicator of economic trends.

For January, however, it is not the salaries on the Russian side of the border that gave a push to border shopping, but more the exchange rate favouring the rubel vs. the Norwegian krone. Against dollar, the rubel grew about 5% last year. Russian economy grew by 1,7% in 2017 according to the World Bank.

Also Russia’s counter sanctions are reportedly giving a boost to local shopping. People from Murmansk drives to nearby Kirkenes to buy cheese and other products not allowed for other than private persons to bring into Russia. French cheese, Norwegian salmon and Finnish yogurt is no longer to find in shops in Murmansk.

Statistics from the police in charge of passport control at Storskog shows a growth of 6% in January compared with the same month a year ago. Not since 2014 has some many people crossed Russia’s northernmost border checkpoint to Europe in the first month of the year. Though, traffic is down 14% compared with December 2017.

For 2017 as such, traffic across the Norwegian-Russian border was up 12,6% from 2016, but still 17% lower than peak year of 2013.

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