Gas prices will reduce competitiveness of Belarusian nitrogen fertilizers
The difference in the price for natural gas in Ukraine and Belarus has decreased to 35%. In 2015, due to lower prices for natural gas, Grodno Azot increased exports of nitrogen fertilizers to Ukraine by 16 times in value terms; gas costs make more than 50% of the nitrogen fertilizers production cost. Due to the overall fall in prices on natural gas in Ukraine and in the world, the price of nitrogen fertilisers is likely to reduce and Belarusian producers may lose their positions on the neighbouring markets. Since natural gas prices for Belarus would remain at the level of 2015, fertilizers’ production costs will grow, proceeds will fall, and enterprises modernisation investment projects will be put off. In December 2015, Grodno Azot net profits reduced by more than BYR 200 billion. If such trends persist, Grodno Azot will no longer be among the 10 most profitable companies in Belarus.
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.