Foreign trade of Belarus will improve only if refining and potash sales perform well
According to the National Statistics Committee, in May 2015, foreign trade deficit totalled USD 163.8 million, the lowest value since January 2015. The improvement was due to a record high volume of potash exports in May 2015 and the increase in exports of petroleum products to foreign markets. Thanks to recently signed agreements for potash supplies to India and China, Belarus is likely to increase her potash sales on the world potash market. The situation with petroleum products supplies largely depends on the world oil prices and supplies of Russian oil to Belarus in Q3 2015. If world potash and oil prices fall, Belarus will be unable to meet her projected export volumes for 2015. Extended sanctions against Russia have increased the risk of further reduction in bilateral trade – mainly concerning the supply of engineering products to the Russian market.
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.