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Belarus: Economy Overview

10 February 2010
by Ina Dimireva -- last modified 10 February 2010

Belarus has seen limited structural reform since 1995 and continued state control over economic operations hampers market entry for businesses, both domestic and foreign.


Economy Overview

Belarus has seen limited structural reform since 1995, when President Lukashenko launched the country on the path of "market socialism." In keeping with this policy, Lukashenko reimposed administrative controls over prices and currency exchange rates and expanded the state's right to intervene in the management of private enterprises. Since 2005, the government has re-nationalized a number of private companies. In addition, businesses have been subjected to pressure by central and local governments, including arbitrary changes in regulations, numerous rigorous inspections, retroactive application of new business regulations, and arrests of "disruptive" businessmen and factory owners. Continued state control over economic operations hampers market entry for businesses, both domestic and foreign. Government statistics indicate GDP growth was strong, reaching 10% in 2008, despite the roadblocks of a tough, centrally directed economy with a high rate of inflation. However, the global crisis pushed the country into recession in 2009. Slumping foreign demand hit the industrial sector hard. Minsk has depended on a standby-agreement with the IMF to assist with balance of payments shortfalls. In line with IMF conditions, in early 2009, Belarus devalued the ruble approximately 20% and tightened some fiscal and monetary policies. Nevertheless, Belarus probably will miss its 2009 budget targets with a deficit of about 2% of GDP. During 2009 Minsk and Moscow agreed to keep prices for oil and natural gas at 2009 levels. On 1 January 2010, Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus launched a customs union, with unified trade regulations and customs codes still under negotiation.

GDP (purchasing power parity):

$111.9 billion (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 63
$115.7 billion (2008 est.)
$105.2 billion (2007 est.)
note: data are in 2009 US dollars

GDP (official exchange rate):

$49.04 billion (2009 est.)

GDP - real growth rate:

-3.3% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 165
10% (2008 est.)
8.2% (2007 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP):

$11,600 (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 93
$11,900 (2008 est.)
$10,800 (2007 est.)
note: data are in 2009 US dollars

GDP - composition by sector:

agriculture: 9.3%
industry: 39.7%
services: 51% (2009 est.)

Labor force:

4.869 million (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 76

Labor force - by occupation:

agriculture: 14%
industry: 34.7%
services: 51.3% ( September 2007)

Unemployment rate:

1.6% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 10
note: officially registered unemployed; large number of underemployed workers

Investment (gross fixed):

36.6% of GDP (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 9

Budget:

revenues: $16.15 billion
expenditures: $16.19 billion (2009 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):

12.5% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 202
14.8% (2008 est.)

Commercial bank prime lending rate:

8.55% (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 100
8.58% (31 December 2007)

Stock of domestic credit:

$18.42 billion (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 61
$12.16 billion (31 December 2007)

Agriculture - products:

grain, potatoes, vegetables, sugar beets, flax; beef, milk

Industries:

metal-cutting machine tools, tractors, trucks, earthmovers, motorcycles, televisions, synthetic fibers, fertilizer, textiles, radios, refrigerators

Industrial production growth rate:

-7% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 122

Oil - production:

184,000 bbl/day (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 60

Natural gas - production:

152 million cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 77

Current account balance:

$-3.656 million (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 164
$-5.063 billion (2008 est.)

Exports:

$18.04 billion (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 67
$33.04 billion (2007 est.)

Exports - commodities:

machinery and equipment, mineral products, chemicals, metals, textiles, foodstuffs

Exports - partners:

Russia 32.2%, Netherlands 16.9%, Ukraine 8.5%, Latvia 6.6%, Poland 5.5%, UK 4.4% (2008)

Imports:

$22.4 billion (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 63
$39.16 billion (2008 est.)

Imports - commodities:

mineral products, machinery and equipment, chemicals, foodstuffs, metals

Imports - partners:

Russia 59.8%, Germany 7.1%, Ukraine 5.4% (2008)

Debt - external:

$17.08 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 72
$15.15 billion (31 December 2008 est.)

Exchange rates:

Belarusian rubles (BYB/BYR) per US dollar - 3,054 (2009), 2,130 (2008), 2,145 (2007), 2,144.6 (2006), 2,150 (2005)
 
Source: CIA - The World Factbook


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