Consumer goods trade in the regions
Protective measures in trade between regions are losing relevance. Rules of the game are changed by Russian retailers, which have a greater degree of freedom in choosing their suppliers. Regional authorities’ primary problem is how to substitute imported goods in retail shops and to find Belarusian analogues.
In January-May 2013 the population bought food products, beverages and tobacco worth BYR 47.9 trillion, non-food products - BYR 46.9 billion, which makes 111.2% and 126.5% respectively of January-May 2012
The share of domestically produced goods in retail trade turnover in January-May 2013 was 71.3%, including food, beverage, and tobacco products - 82.6%, non-food products - 55.6%.
‘Interregional import’ is periodically restricted by administrative means. However, these measures are not systemic. The trade’s main problem is unpopularity and unattractiveness of locally produced industrial goods. The population prefers either Russian-made goods or goes on shopping-tours to Lithuania and Poland. For example, in 2012 Belarus imported 292 thousand TV sets alone (USD 118.4). Minsk-based ‘Horyzont’ and Vitebsk-based ‘Vityaz’ TV-makers’ local market shrank by 20%. Note, that real foreign imports figures could be higher due to the absence of border with Russia.
Foodstuffs trade situation is similar, particularly with fruit and vegetables. Belarusian agricultural producers often cannot compete on quality, or face the marketing challenge. For example, in January – May 2013 Belarus-grown young potatoes were not supplied to commercial retailers. Large retailers were selling potatoes from Egypt, Morocco, Greece, at BYR 16-20 thousand per kilogram. Also in Q1 2013, tomatoes and cucumbers imports grew by 2.8 and 2.4 times respectively. Belarus-grown tomatoes cost almost 1.5 of the imported ones.
In the Brest and Grodno regions the consumption of imported food and non-food products is much higher due to the proximity of Ukraine and Poland, where local residents regularly make shopping tours.
Due to the lack of borders with Russia, as well as to growing number of Russian retailers, the Belarusian authorities are yet unable to offer effective measures to protect the domestic market.