Belarusian economy demonstrated growth all through the 2000s, claim the experts writing in “Spotlight on Belarus: In Search of Growth Factors”. This is the title of a new bulletin providing regular coverage of current trends in the global economy. In 2003 the country became the third former Soviet republic (to follow Uzbekistan and Estonia) to regain the real GDP level of 1990 (Russia’s 2003 GDP stood at 80% of the 1990 figure, Ukraine’s — at 55%). Over the next 5 years (between 2004 and 2008), while the global energy prices were rising, the Belarusian economy had grown 60% (Russia’s achievement was 40%). In 2009 Belarus was the only country from among the ex-Soviet republics geographically located in Europe whose GDP did not experience a decline, despite 9% cuts in the export and import of goods and services.
Speaking in modern-day terms, the economy of Belarus had been built during the Soviet times as the final link in the value-added chain, which resulted in the country accommodating such large processing facilities as the Mozyrsky and Novopolotsky refineries, the MAZ and BelAZ plants, facilities manufacturing refrigerators, gas stoves, etc. The special bond between Belarus and Russia throughout the post-Soviet years was marked by few political conflicts between these two countries, especially when compared to Russia’s turbulent relations with Georgia, Ukraine and the Baltic States.
Belarus has moreover maintained close ties with the Russian economic space: imported from Russia are low-price raw materials and energy resources, while the Russian market continues to be the recipient of more than 95% of the Belarusian dairy export and approximately 70% of the machine engineering industry.
The country has been able to avoid the harsh economic crises of 1999 and 2009. The large number of labor migrants from Belarus working in Russia also contribute to the country’s comparatively well-off situation, with its per capita GDP being way higher than that of many other post-Soviet countries.
The 2015-2016 recession has revealed the internal problems experienced by the Belarusian economy (the market reforms of the 1990s were to a great extent perfunctory, allowing the state to maintain control over the key production facilities, yet impeding their modernization). The recession furthermore led to another cycle of negotiations with Russia on oil and gas prices. Experts moreover claim in the bulletin that: “The relations with Russia are further complicated by Belarus’ position with regard to other foreign trade issues: the customs statistics show a significant share of re-export into Russia of foods from countries subject to Russia’s embargo”.
For more check the bulletin “Spotlight on Belarus: In Search of Growth Factors”.
For other bulletins offering coverage of the current trends in global economy check Publications.