Foreign currency exchange: expansion of the currency corridor
On 12 May the National Bank of Belarus expanded the corridor for the Belarusian ruble rate deviation against a basket of currencies (US Dollar, Euro, Russian ruble) from 8% to 12%.
Expansion of the corridor was the right decision, it made the exchange rate policy more flexible, however, it was insufficient, given the balancing rate was far above the upper margin level set by the National Bank.
Plurality of exchange rates distorts the economic picture and has negative impact on both, importers and exporters. Moreover, it affects insurance, leasing, construction and other companies, as their customer contracts are tied to the official exchange rate. Currency risks and uncertainty lead to higher prices and to degradation of variety of goods.
Last week, Belarusian Foreign Minister Makei participated in the foreign ministers’ meeting of the Eastern Partnership and Visegrad Group initiative hosted by Warsaw. The Belarusian FM emphasized Belarus' interest in cooperation in the transport sector, which could be due to Belarus’ desire to export electricity surplus after Belarus finished construction of the nuclear power plant in Ostrovets. Minsk expressed concerns about Warsaw’s stance on the Belarusian NPP, as it refused to buy electricity from Belarus and supported Vilnius’ protest on this issue. Following accusations by the Belarusian leadership and the state media against western states, including Poland, of training "nationalist militants", Minsk did not agree on the visit of the European Parliament deputies from Lithuania and Germany to Belarus and to the NPP construction site near Ostrovets in particular. In addition, the Belarusian authorities have stepped up efforts to enforce education in Russian in Polish-language schools in Grodno and Vaukavysk. Should a rift in Belarusian-Polish relations persist, the Belarusian authorities are likely to step up the pressure on the Polish-speaking minority in Belarus.