Due to cuts in oil supplies, Belarusian industrial performance will lag behind 2015
According to the National Statistics Committee, industrial production index in January-October 2016 was 98.5%, which means that industrial production is unlikely to achieve 2015 level by the year-end. Industrial performance fell mainly due to short oil supply, which led to oil refining reducing by 11.4%. In the absence of the final decision on the oil supply resumption in higher volume, petrochemical exports are likely to decline, so as the total export of Belarusian goods. By the year-end, the Belarusian budget is likely to raise only USD 650-700 million from export duties, instead of projected USD 900 million. In December 2016, the economic authorities may introduce administrative measures aiming to increase currency sales by major Belarusian exporters and may apply additional financial burden on successful businesses. Meanwhile, reduced supplies in 2016 create a favourable baseline for the oil refinery in 2017 to report performance growth.
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.