People’s incomes restrict retail trade growth in Belarus
According to the National Statistics Committee, in January - May 2016, retail trade turnover decreased by 1.8% compared with 2015. The main reason is the drop in real disposable income of the population, which in four months decreased by 6.9%. In order to maintain the customary living standard the population monthly spends USD 200-250 million from savings, which somewhat hinders the pace of the turnover fall. Retail market is likely to continue to shrink. In order to boost consumer demand, retailers are likely to introduce new sales and loans by reducing the level of trade allowances. Amid state measures to curb inflation, the state is likely to step up audit of retailers. Retail chains are likely to expand only if it was planned in previous years. Due to low consumer demand, Belarusian retailers are likely to carry out lay-offs to reduce costs.
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.