Belarus’ foreign trade deficit will exceed USD 2.5 billion in 2015
According to the National Statistics Committee, in January - October 2015, foreign trade deficit totalled USD 2.1 billion. Compared with 2014, the situation has somewhat improved due to a decline in imports of capital goods and lower energy prices. However, the deficit might increase up to USD 2.5 billion by the year-end due to reduced exports of potash and nitrogen fertilizers. Russia’s ban on vegetables from Turkey is unlikely to remedy the situation, as Russia will tighten control of all fruits and vegetables, supplied via Belarus. In addition, she may restrict Belarusian dairy products on the Russian market. A further decline in prices for oil and oil products may hit Belarus’ exports with a monthly loss up to USD 2 billion.
The Belarusian authorities regard the Catholic conference as yet another international event to promote Minsk as a global negotiating platform. Minsk’s proposal to organise a meeting between the Roman-Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church is rather an image-making undertaking than a serious intention. However, the authorities could somewhat extend the opportunities for the Roman-Catholic Church in Belarus due to developing contacts with the Catholic world.
Minsk is attempting to lay out a mosaic from various international religious, political and sportive events to shape a positive image of Belarus for promoting the Helsinki 2.0 idea.
Belarus’ invitation to the head of the Holy See for a meeting with the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church should be regarded as a continuation of her foreign policy efforts in shaping Minsk’s peacekeeping image and enhancing Belarus’ international weight. The Belarusian authorities are aware that their initiative is unlikely to find supporters among the leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow. In Russia, isolationist sentiments prevail.
In addition, for domestic audiences, the authorities make up for the lack of tangible economic growth with demonstrations of growth in Minsk’s authority at international level through providing a platform for religious, sportive and other dialogues.