Growth in potash sales unlikely to reverse negative trend in Belarus’ foreign trade
According to the National Statistics Committee, despite an increase in exports by 16% as compared with January 2016, in January 2017, foreign trade deficit totalled USD 385.4 million. In January 2016, foreign trade deficit was USD 91.5 million and has since deteriorated due to the increase in the basic import prices on oil, petrochemicals, natural gas, and raw material for food production. Demand for foreign currency from importers on the domestic market is likely to increase, prices on petrochemical goods and foodstuffs on the domestic market are likely to increase, too. The state is likely to introduce additional restrictions on imports and the carriage of goods by different transport means is likely to increase. Potash production, one of the key Belarusian export commodities, increased in January 2017 by 75%; over 90% of produced potash was exported. If potash prices on the international potash market remain high, Belarus is likely to boost her currency earnings by USD 20-30 million per month. However, this is unlikely to help overcome foreign trade deficit in Belarus.
According to Belstat, in August 7,600 people were dismissed, including 4,800 civil servants. Dismissals of civil servants were due to the optimisation in the public administration by up to 30%. Some civil servants would retain their job however would lose the status of a civil servant. Vacancies on the labour market are likely to reduce in number, thanks to the optimisation, the state administration would increase wages for public servants. The payroll fund for retained employees is likely to increase and some former state employees are likely to get jobs in affiliated organizations. The optimisation of the state apparatus should complete by January 1st, 2018, and some former civil servants are likely to join the ranks of the unemployed.