January GDP growth was due to refineries and production growth
In industry the highest production growth rate was within refinery - 173.2% increase compared with January 2011. However February figures will not be the same, because such increase was associated with a low base effect, namely in January 2011 within the conditions of the conflict around Russian oil supplies, the Belarusian oil industry was almost idle (there were no deliveries, refineries processed the remnants).
In January Belarus’ GDP increased by 3.6%. Industrial production rate was 106.6 %, retail turnover - 103%. Capital investment decreased by 11.4%
In January experts predicted decrease in the GDP growth, the government expected 2% increase, respectively, on the one hand, the 3.6% growth in GDP is very positive. On the other hand, it is not enough against the projected average of 5-5.5%.
Moreover, January stock supplies increased to Br 16021.6 billion or 7.2% of the industrial output. Therefore, industry as one of the major components of the GDP (32.4%) has actually saved January by increased supplies and oil refinery.
Accordingly, in February, one should expect a decline or minimal growth due to the continuation of the stocking up of warehouses. In February there will be no factors affecting the growth of retail or foreign trade. Most industries are unable to ensure 5% growth of the GDP without loans or other forms of state support.
President Lukashenko’s and the government’s reaction to the macro-statistics in February will be crucial. It will be a litmus paper regarding the algorithm of further actions of the authorities. Most likely, at a Governmental meeting or a meeting at the Presidential Administration in March an order to start ‘heating’ up of the economy with money printing will be made (to support housing, agriculture, etc.).
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.