Belarusian economy abandons hopes for growth in 2016
According to the IMF forecast, Belarus’ GDP is expected to decline by 2.2% in 2016. The forecast for 2015 has been revised downwards – GDP is expected to shrink by 3.6% instead of 2.2% according to April forecast. The deterioration is due to the slower pace of economic recovery in the developing countries with a view to preserving the current level of oil prices. In the near future investment in fixed assets will curb, household incomes will continue to fall, competition for jobs will increase, and inflation somewhat decline due to lower consumer demand. The current account deficit of 4.3% of GDP requires a search for external funding sources to service the public debt, since Belarus does not have sufficient domestic resources to service her debt.
President Lukashenka has met with the head of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov, who visited Minsk and the Minsk Automobile Plant. Minsk has always sought to have independent links with Russian regional elites, partially, to compensate for the Kremlin's diminishing interest in Belarus. In recent years, Belarus’ contacts with the Russian regions have been extremely intense. However, with some leaders of Russian regions, primarily heads of large republics, communication was more difficult to build. As many analysts in Minsk suggested, Minsk could regard contacts between President Lukashenka and the head of Chechnya as an additional communication channel for relieving tension in relations with the Kremlin. However, most likely, a trusting relationship with Kadyrov is a value for Minsk as such, provided Kadyrov’s broad business and political interests, and a high degree of autonomy for the Chechen leader from the Kremlin.