Business leaders are fearful trade sanctions on Russia could halt soaring exports to the country, after a rise of 187 per cent in the past four years.
The UK and Europe look bound for a trade war with Russia over the Ukraine crisis, leaving experts concerned about the economic impact on the West Midlands.
The region had an export surplus of £627.1 million to Russia last year, after seeing exports surge from £314.1 million to more than £900 million in four years.
The fears arose as sanctions between the EU were impose and Russia reacting in kind. But business leaders from the region say companies can only lose out as a result.
Paul Noon, West Midlands director of UK Trade and Investment, told the Post he was hopeful a solution would be found quickly.
He added: “As far as I am concerned, anything that hits trade is damaging, so we want to see the situation sorted out as quickly as possible, so we can get back to trading.”
Jerry Blackett, chief executive of Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce, agreed it was key to find a swift conclusion.
He said: “Any situation which damages international trade has the chance of damaging the economy.
“Chamber businesses have demonstrated that exporting increases profits, job security, expansion and more product development opportunities. Manufacturing in particular relies on exports and this latest development means a threat to business survival and jobs.
“Russia is an important market, particularly for the automotive industry and its suppliers. We urge the Government to look at solving this situation rapidly.”
Jaguar Land Rover has, unsurprisingly, played a major role in the rise in exports to Russia from the region.
Russia is a major trading nation with the region, more so than the likes of Spain, where the Midlands exported £691.9 million last year, and Australia, where exports were at £566.4 million.
The region also had an export surplus of £84.1 million to Ukraine last year, with exports growing by 71 per cent since 2010.
The introduction of economic sanctions with Russia would probably mean bans on imports and exports.
The markets have begun to factor in the move – the Russian stock exchange and rouble have fallen and two of the major ratings companies have downgraded Russia’s credit outlook and growth forecasts on the back of proposed trade sanctions.
The US and Europe might also restrict Russian banks and corporations from access to finance and the state-owned energy giant Gazprom would probably be a likely target for a ban on EU contracts.
It was revealed this month that the UK had considered closing London’s financial centre to Russians as one possible sanction.
The Government has already suspended indefinitely preparations for the G8 meeting, frozen the assets of 21 individuals connected with the Ukraine situation and suspended arms exports to Russia.