GDP to continue to fall after completion of harvesting campaign in Belarus
In January-August 2015, GDP shrank by 3.5%, while in January-July – by 4%. The dynamics has improved thanks to the harvesting campaign, which was delayed compared with 2014. Until the end of the year, further economic slowdown should be expected due to falling incomes and deterioration in the wholesale trade, transport and industrial production. The state will continue to provide financial support to key industrial enterprises in order to preserve the employment rates (MAZ, MTZ, BelAZ, and Atlant). Demand for Belarusian produces on foreign markets is unlikely to increase due to a large share of Russia in trade turnover and preservation of sanctions against her. GDP may somewhat improve through the production of innovative products and focus on the EU market, however, unfavourable investment climate does not encourage new businesses to emerge at a good pace.
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.