Investment imports eat up potash exports growth
On April 1st, Statistics Ministry published foreign trade data in January-February 2013.
Industrial modernization and consumer imports growth neutralized the successes of potash exports and also became a major reason behind the international trade deterioration. In view of the planned concessional lending to industry and agriculture, further deterioration of the international trade situation should be anticipated, even if potash and dairy exports increase.
In February 2013, international trade in goods was negative: minus USD 237.7 million. In January 2013, international trade balance was minus USD 158.8 million. Compared to January-February 2012, the international trade balance deteriorated by USD 916.3 million. Taking into account the production “costs” of solvents, lubricants and biodiesel, trade surplus in 2012 improved due to innovative products by USD 200 million pm on average.
One of the few foreign trade positions in 2013, which could have a positive impact on net exports are potash fertilizers. Contracts, signed with China and India, resulted in a significant increase in potash exports volume and helped offsetting the reduced prices. In value terms, the supply of fertilizers (including the nitrogen fertilizers supply) grew by 38.4%, or by USD 132.2 million in January-February 2013 compared with same period in 2012. Potash exports in January-February 2013 have become the fastest growing exports in Belarus.
In 2013 international trade is suffering from the lack of innovative products, as well as from industrial modernization and consumer imports. In three major investment groups – goods, electrical machinery, vehicles and equipment – imports grew by over USD 420 million in January-February 2013, compared with January-February 2012. Food imports have increased by more than USD 100 million. Import of other commodities is also growing.
Thus, modernization plans and rising incomes have already had an impact on the foreign trade. International trade situation will continue deteriorating due to potential increases in lending at subsidized interest rates to industry and agriculture, even if potash fertilizers and dairy products exports 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.