World Bank expects Belarusian economy to start growing only in 2018
According to the World Bank’s economic review, the economy of Belarus is expected to decline by 0.4% in 2017, weak economic growth is possible in 2018 at 0.7%. The reasons for GDP decline in 2017 would be limited domestic demand and low investment. It is expected that risks would retain due to unresolved issues with the rehabilitation of problem enterprises. A significant amount of public debt servicing would require the government to raise additional funds, including for the repayment of the Eurobond issue at USD 800 million in January 2018. The state is unlikely to reduce its share in the economy, which would require additional resources to support unprofitable enterprises and would limit the opportunities for economic recovery. The resumption of economic growth in 2018 would depend on the ability of Belarusian enterprises to diversify export markets for their products and on the state efforts to clean up the economy from distressed enterprises and accumulated distressed debts.
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.