New terms of gas supplies from Russia could prompt more Eurobonds issues by Belarus in 2017
Gazprom has announced an increase in the natural gas price for Belarus from USD 132 in 2016 to USD 141.1 per 1,000 cubic metres as of January 1st, 2017. The price of gas is tied to the cost of gas in the Russian Yamal-Nenets Autonomous District, 70% of the gas price make transportation and storage. Negotiations about Belarus’ overdue debt for the gas supply from Russia are likely to continue; electricity tariffs for private and legal persons are likely to go up, while largest industrial enterprises are likely to increase non-payment for energy resources; and financial health at some chemical and metallurgical enterprises is likely to deteriorate. On average, Belarus consumes 19-22 billion cubic metres of natural gas per year, so an increase in the gas price will require additional currency resources circa USD 170 million, which could prompt Belarus to issue Eurobonds for this amount in 2017.
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.