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.
President Lukashenka continues to rotate staff and rejuvenate heads of departments and universities following new appointments in regional administrations. Apparently, new Information Minister Karliukevich could somewhat relax the state policy towards the independent media and introduce technological solutions for retaining control over Belarus’ information space. New rectors could strengthen the trend for soft Belarusization in the regions and tighten the disciplinary and ideological control over the student movement in the capital.
President Lukashenka has appointed new ministers of culture and information, the new rector of the Belarusian State University and heads of three universities, assistants in the Minsk and Vitebsk regions.
The new Information Minister Karliukevich is likely to avoid controversial initiatives similar to those former Minister Ananich was famous for, however, certainly within his capacities. Nevertheless, the appointment of Belarusian-speaking writer Karliukevich could be regarded as the state’s cautious attempt to relax environment in the media field and ensure the sovereignty of national media.
The Belarusian leadership has consolidated the trend for mild Belarusization by appointing a young historian and a ‘reasonable nationalist’, Duk as the rector at the Kuleshov State University in Mogilev. Meanwhile, while choosing the head of the Belarusian State University, the president apparently had in mind the strengthening of the ideological loyalty among the teaching staff and students at the main university in order to keep the youth movement at bay. Previously, Korol was the rector of the Kupala State University in Grodno, where he held purges among the disloyal teaching staff.
The trend for the renewal of mid-ranking executives and their rejuvenation has confirmed. The age of the Culture Minister and three new rectors varies from 39 to 44 years old.