Export requires new mechanisms to support competitiveness
Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Guryanov said that the attenuation of the Br exchange rate has been exhausted for the Belarusian exporters. “To increase sales in foreign markets they have to rely on other mechanisms”.
Mr. Guryanov noted 2011 was rather successful for Belarus in terms of foreign trade balance. The foreign trade balance in goods and services in 2011 was negative amounting to USD 1.64 billion, while projection was minus USD 5.7 billion. The Belarusian exports compared to 2010 increased by 56.1%. Exports increased by USD 46.6 billion. However, “the effect of the devaluation of 2011 has been exhausted. Stability in the foreign exchange market should make exporters to rely on other factors”, Mr. Guryanov said. “Other” factors in his opinion include: increasing of export volumes, as well as supply of new products. However, his words sound rather like a mantra as the Belarusian export increasingly focuses on raw materials (potassium and petroleum products account for over one half of total exports), the country is losing its traditional markets and the proportion of new and innovative products in the overall production is decreasing. Belarusian companies are increasingly losing to their Russian and Ukrainian rivals.
Mr. Guryanov believes that by the end of 2012 Belarus could really come to a positive trade balance of USD 1.5 billion. In his view, this could be achieved due to the lack of excessive demand for passenger cars (main trend of the first half of 2011), reduced gas prices and better conditions of Russian oil supply, as compared with 2011. Whether these expectations and assumptions are backed up by real calculations, is a serious question.
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.