Chinese loans unlikely to become popular in Belarus
Belarusbank will use a loan from China’s State Development Bank to support projects in Belarus. The loan has a five-year grace period for deferred payment. However, due to high interest rate (6% + 6 months Libor rate) only few projects would be implemented. Implementation of the projects will be accompanied by growth in imports from China, due to the 50% Chinese component requirement. In addition, Belarus would try to attract other investors to the ‘Great Stone’ technological part in order to demonstrate favourable investment climate in the country. Meanwhile, Belarusian private sector is likely to apply for untied loans at a higher interest rate, which would not require compulsory imports of Chinese goods and services.
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.