Lifted restrictions on fuel exports may somewhat improve retail trade turnover
As of September 1st, 2016, Belarus will abolish restrictions on export of motor fuel from Belarus. Since November 2011, those who travelled by car outside the Customs Union more frequently than once in eight days, were required to pay duty on fuel in the car. Motor fuel makes about 5% of the total retail turnover. Retail price on motor fuel is unlikely to go up, while wholesale price is likely to increase. Motor fuel trade is likely to boost in the bordering regions with the Baltic States and Poland. Hence, Grodno and Brest oblasts are likely to report some increase in retail trade turnover and higher tax payments to the state budget. Fuel prices in Russia restrict fuel price growth in Belarus. If prices go up, de-centralised import of fuel by citizens in the bordering regions with Russia is likely to increase.
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.