Government chooses between stagnation and devaluation
On October 19, 2012, an extended participation session of the National Bank Board took place
The deteriorating situation with foreign trade and growing pressure on the foreign exchange market, are forcing the National Bank to resort to rigorous monetary policy . However, such a policy makes it impossible to fulfill plans for a 5-percent GDP growth n 2012.
Termination of exports of dissolvents and dilutants resulted in a deteriorating situation with foreign trade. Another negative factor is a decline in potash fertilizer export; export sales of potassium chloride are highly unlikely to improve by the end of the year. Due to the fact that Russia will join the WTO, several Belarusian export positions will have to compete with foreign suppliers.
In such a situation, the National Bank has to resort to rigorous monetary policy which has been significantly relaxed in recent months. Active economy lending, wage rises as well as a decrease in loan rates created an illusion that the economic situation had stabilized.
The last two months have demonstrated a noticeable deceleration in industry due to slower growth in production of chemical and petroleum products.
Due to the current situation with the export of potash, potash fertilizers as well as dissolvents and dilutants, growth rates will not recover and will continue to decline. As a result, the industry growth rate of GDP is slowing down, which correspondingly affects growth of wholesale trade. Retail sales and investments into fixed assets could compensate for the reduction in GDP growth by industry.
Rates growth in the interbank market is caused by a number of reasons. A lack of liquidity in the market, limited support of the National Bank, stricter requirements to the mandatory cash reserves resulted in growth of loan rates in the interbank lending market. Under such circumstances, it is inevitable that debt financing of the economy will reduce, and consequently lead to a decline in investment into fixed assets. Most likely, the companies will be forced to resort to the policy of wage restraint due to the worsening economic situation, which will result in the reduction of turnover growth. Therefore, it could be concluded that government not only has no tools to increase GDP growth rate, but also to maintain the GDP at the level of 2.5% In this situation, government has to admit that they failed to fulfill their obligations to provide for GDP growth rate of 5% in 2012.
Over the past year, military-political relations between Minsk and Kyiv have become complicated. Due to their high inertia and peculiarities, this downward trend would be extremely difficult to overcome.
The root cause of the crisis is the absence of a common political agenda in the Belarusian-Ukrainian relations. Minsk is looking for a market for Belarusian exports in Ukraine and offers its services as a negotiation platform for the settlement of the Russo-Ukrainian war, thereby hoping to avoid political issues in the dialogue with Kiev. Meanwhile, Ukraine is hoping for political support from Minsk in the confrontation with Moscow. In addition, Ukraine’s integration with NATO presupposes her common position with the Alliance in relation to Belarus. The NATO leadership regards the Belarusian Armed Forces as an integral part of the Russian military machine in the western strategic front (the Baltic states and Poland). In addition, the ongoing military reform in Ukraine envisages a reduction in the number of generals and the domestic political struggle makes some Ukrainian top military leaders targets in politically motivated attacks.
Hence, the criticism of Belarus coming from Ukrainian military leadership is dictated primarily by internal and external political considerations, as well as by the need to protect the interests of generals, and only then by facts.
For instance, initially, the Ukrainian military leadership made statements about 100,000 Russian servicemen allegedly taking part in the Russo-Belarusian military drill West-2017. Then the exercises were labelled quazi-open and military observers from Ukraine refused to provide their assessment, which caused a negative reaction in Minsk. Further, without citing specific facts, it was stated that Russia was building up its military presence in Belarus.
Apparently, the Belarusian and Ukrainian Defence Ministries have entangled in a confrontational spiral (on the level of rhetoric). Moreover, only a small part of the overly hidden process has been disclosed. That said, third states are very likely to take advantage of the situation (or have already done so). This is not only about Russia.
The Belarusian Defence Ministry officials are restrained in assessing their Ukrainian counterparts. However, such a restraint is not enough. Current military-political relations between Belarus and Ukraine are unlikely to stabilise without the intervention of both presidents.