Confectionery industry problems are tackled by old means – with import restrictions
As of April 3rd, Ukrainian confectionery manufacturers cannot access the Belarusian market.
Income growth has resulted in Belarusian consumers’ reorientation towards foreign confectionery producers. The government attempts to solve the problem of reduced production volumes and piling up stocks in the confectionery industry by restricting domestic market competition. Instead of improving the quality, the government uses administrative means, which are ineffective given border free communications with Russia.
Income growth has resulted in Belarusian consumers’ reorientation towards foreign confectionery producers. According to the National Statistics Committee data, in Q1 2013, the share of confectionery made from foreign sugar increased up to 29.8% of all sales. In Q1 2012 the share of foreign products was 21.6%. Foreign trade in goods statistics in January-February 2013 shows a more than twofold increase in imports of chocolate and other food products containing cocoa.
Confectionery industry statistics also deteriorated. Production of chocolate and confectionery products from chocolate declined in Q1 2013 by 17.6% compared to the same period in 2012. Stocks increased by 20% since early 2013. A negative impact on the confectionery industry performance has had the nationalization of Kommunarka and Spartak confectioneries and the need to restructure the foreign sales network. The government decided to support the domestic confectioneries by limiting the supply from Ukraine – one of the largest confectionery suppliers to the Belarusian market. Restrictions on Ukrainian confectionery imports were introduced on formal grounds.
An additional measure to improve the situation in the confectionery industry is a Trade Ministry resolution No 6, which extended the list of sweets that must be sold in retail outlets. Against import restrictions, Belarusian shops will be overloaded with domestic confectionary products. This measure’s effectiveness is questionable in the context of open borders with Russia and the inability to apply similar measures against Russian confectioners, which are leading importers to Belarus in 2013.
Thus, instead of improving the quality, the government has once again used its administrative tool. Preservation of favourable conditions for Belarusian producers by using old means is not feasible due to open borders within the Common Economic Space. In fact, the launched unproductive trade war could result in retaliatory actions by Ukrain for a number of highly sensitive Belarusian exports.
President Lukashenka continues to rotate staff and rejuvenate heads of departments and universities following new appointments in regional administrations. Apparently, new Information Minister Karliukevich could somewhat relax the state policy towards the independent media and introduce technological solutions for retaining control over Belarus’ information space. New rectors could strengthen the trend for soft Belarusization in the regions and tighten the disciplinary and ideological control over the student movement in the capital.
President Lukashenka has appointed new ministers of culture and information, the new rector of the Belarusian State University and heads of three universities, assistants in the Minsk and Vitebsk regions.
The new Information Minister Karliukevich is likely to avoid controversial initiatives similar to those former Minister Ananich was famous for, however, certainly within his capacities. Nevertheless, the appointment of Belarusian-speaking writer Karliukevich could be regarded as the state’s cautious attempt to relax environment in the media field and ensure the sovereignty of national media.
The Belarusian leadership has consolidated the trend for mild Belarusization by appointing a young historian and a ‘reasonable nationalist’, Duk as the rector at the Kuleshov State University in Mogilev. Meanwhile, while choosing the head of the Belarusian State University, the president apparently had in mind the strengthening of the ideological loyalty among the teaching staff and students at the main university in order to keep the youth movement at bay. Previously, Korol was the rector of the Kupala State University in Grodno, where he held purges among the disloyal teaching staff.
The trend for the renewal of mid-ranking executives and their rejuvenation has confirmed. The age of the Culture Minister and three new rectors varies from 39 to 44 years old.