Belarus extended visa-free stay for western nationals amid improved trade indicators
Belarus continued to unilaterally simplify visa rules for foreigners hoping for an inflow of tourists and the intensification in business contacts. That said, the quality of political relations with the West has not changed.
On July 27th, 2018, Belarus extended the visa-free stay in Belarus for citizens of 74 states, including the EU and the US, to 30 days. It is assumed that such a unilateral move would give an additional impetus to the talks on visa simplification with the EU, and would also attract foreign tourists to the country. In addition, this gesture of goodwill by Minsk was designated to improve Belarus’ international image.
Data on Belarus' foreign trade in January-May 2018 was released last week. Trade turnover with the EU increased by 37.6% as compared with the same period in 2017 to USD 7.3 billion. Exports of goods to the EU increased by 52.5% and totalled USD 4,436.4 million, imports - by 19.6% to USD 2,896 million. The positive foreign trade balance in goods in January-May 2018 totalled USD 1,540.4 million. Exports to the US amounted to USD 97.4 million (an increase of 21.9%), imports - USD 176.4 million (an increase of 33.2%).
According to the poll by the "EU’s Eastern Neighbourhood" project carried out jointly with ACT LLC in March-April 2018, 34% of Belarusians said they had a positive attitude towards the EU, 43% - neutral. Compared with the last year's poll, the negative attitude of Belarusians towards the EU has grown from 6% to 18%.
Simultaneously, half of the respondents assessed relations between Belarus and the EU as good and very good (46% and 4% respectively).