Competition brings risk and inspires innovative strategy

The Belarusian economy’s openness is confirmed by exports: 85 percent of all domestically produced goods and services are sold abroad. The country’s well-being (and the stability of its currency) depends on sales promotion
By Kirill Yemelyanov

Exports are a key factor in Belarus’ economic security so, unsurprisingly, the Government is paying special attention to them of late. Analysing the country’s social-economic development over the past nine months, it is questionable whether all reserves are being used to the full; what can we do to inspire further exports? The Deputy Chairman of the Belarusian Scientific-Industrial Association, Professor Georgy Grits, tells us, “The problem lies in the changing market situation globally. It has been our lifeline of late but the prices of most of our exported goods have fallen: ferrous metals, potash fertilisers and food. Demand is also decreasing. Belarus has joined the Single Economic Space while Russia (our key partner) has become a WTO member. Both structures are based on open market conditions: an equal playing field for all. This creates new opportunities and new risks.”

What can be done to improve the situation for Belarus?

Strategically, we need to diversify our economy, shifting to new technological approaches and manufacturing products with high added value. Selling raw materials — either beef or timber — does not ensure the necessary profit, even when selling abroad. It usually takes five to seven years to make such a shift, so we need to act now. In our favour, we pay half as much as Ukraine for natural gas while we are raising the energy efficiency of our enterprises and reducing the amount of materials used, improving our costs and energy efficiency.

Do we undervalue the role of efficient commodity distribution networks?

All over the globe, intermediary structures are a natural avenue for sales. They don’t simply buy and sell goods; trading agents seriously study their markets and competitors, making supply requests to producers to reflect their perception of future demand. To some extent, they bear responsibility for what’s manufactured. They also provide after sales services. Many even pay upfront for orders, receiving a discount in return.

Internationally, producers are battling for sales, so a well-thought-out marketing policy must be vital...

Definitely. Potential production of goods and service globally is double that of demand so promotion is crucial. Traditional sales schemes are no longer effective. Company heads need to be innovative and choose their dealers carefully, checking credit history. Marketing looks beyond current sales to future potential, using strategy to shape demand and research to discover emerging trends. A senior engineer might work directly at the manufacturing facility while the director must create a longer-term strategy involving investors, partners, dealer networks and state programmes. This is the only way to ensure success.
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