Negative trends on retail market will be reinforced through saving behaviour of Belarusians
According to the National Bank, in January 2017 the population increased currency deposits in the banking system by USD 16.1 million up to USD 7.4467 billion. Growth in currency deposits was marked for the first time since October 2015; the population reduced net sales of foreign currency to a six-month minimum. Part of currency sales was due to people withdrawing their currency savings from the banking system. Households are likely to continue changing their expenditure patterns and gradually increase the proportion of savings. In order to stimulate consumer spending and increase turnover, retailers are likely to boost sales. Due to the expected decrease in the interest rates on deposits, dynamics on the deposit market is likely to remain neutral. Until people’s incomes start growing, they are likely to reduce the share of savings allocated for current consumption, which will lead to retail turnover falling at an increase rate.
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.