Growth in industrial production in Belarus will be insufficient to overcome economic downturn in 2017
According to the National Statistics Committee, in January 2017 Belarus' GDP contracted by 0.5% despite industrial production growth by 5.9%. Industry accounts for 25% of Belarus' GDP. GDP contracted due to the negative dynamics in the construction, wholesale and retail trade. Positive dynamic is likely to persist in most types of industrial production, except petroleum refining. Wages are likely to grow compared with the same period in 2016. In order to overcome the downturn in the construction industry, volumes of soft loans may be revised upwards. Amid increased demand for products in some industrial sectors, layoffs may stop. High rate of industrial production is only possible if Russia resumes full oil supplies. Overcoming the economic recession without improving the situation in the construction industry and substantially improving people’s wages, is hardly possible.
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.