Experts say plunging currency of our 30th-largest export customer unlikely to have direct impact here.

Russia's currency crisis has added risk to world markets, but the New Zealand economy is likely to be spared direct impact, analysts say.

In spite of a dramatic hiking of Russian interest rates, the ruble plunged yesterday, prompting speculation Russia has lost control of its economy and may be forced to impose Soviet-style exchange controls after failure of the "shock and awe" action by the central bank.

Said bank vice-chairman Sergei Shvetsov: "The situation is critical. What is happening is a nightmare."

New Zealand has already felt the impact of a Russian ban on imported foods - mostly dairy - from some Western countries.


Dairy produce from western Europe destined for Russia - the world's second-biggest dairy importer after China - has been diverted to milk powder - New Zealand's biggest export - which has increased supply and depressed prices.

Analysts said Russia's moves to isolate itself and the fact that it was not part of the euro exchange rate mechanism had helped to mitigate fallout from the plunging ruble on world markets.

It had, however, caused some "flight to quality" capital flows, with investors turning to US treasuries and Japanese and German bond markets as safe haven investments.

Russia is New Zealand's 30th-largest export market, with exports in the September year being $196 million, mostly dairy, meat, fish, fruit and nuts and cereal.

It is New Zealand's 24th-largest import supplier, with imports in that year of $319 million, mostly fuel, fertilisers, spirits, wood and copper.

In 2013, Russia was New Zealand's 25th-largest dairy export market, with total dairy exports worth around US$105 million. Restrictions on trade since the Fonterra whey protein concentrate scare last year have curtailed dairy exports to Russia.

Fonterra's general manager trade strategy, Robb Stevens, said the cooperative had traded with Russia for decades. "The current situation in Russia remains fluid," he said. "We continue to monitor events there."

The ruble has fallen by more than 50 per cent this year, evoking memories of the 1998 sovereign debt crisis.


Bank of New Zealand currency strategist Raiko Shareef said there had been no "meltdown" on world financial markets in response to the Russian crisis "but I would say that the typical investor has been pretty risk averse".

International financial markets had been more preoccupied with the sharp decline in oil prices, but Russia was having a secondary impact on sentiment, Shareef said.

ASB Bank chief economist Nick Tuffley said Russia had in effect "decoupled" itself from events in other economies.

Unlike Greece, whose economic problems spread throughout the EU, Russia was not part of any exchange rate mechanism, he said.

"The challenge is the Russian Government is very dependent on their oil revenues to make ends meet, and that's where the pressure is going to come."