Positive balance preferable

Extended governmental session focuses on ways to enhance economic competitiveness on the account of the expansion of range of import-substitution goods

By Boris Yurevsky

As Prime Minister Mikhail Myasnikovich has informed, in 2012, Belarus aims to achieve a $1.8bn positive balance in its foreign trade of goods and services. It will be a challenge, so the structure of the economy needs careful analysis, to reduce costs incurred during GDP formation. The economic situation is such that import-substitution is now a vital element of state security, shifting from the category of economic issues. The exchange rate of the national currency, inflation, people’s income, alongside the trade balance and the balance of payment, are major topics of discussion.

The Prime Minister notes that Belarus began this year with ‘a very bad’ negative foreign trade balance — of 17 percent of GDP. By August, the deficiency in foreign trade had fallen to 8 percent of GDP — mostly due to monetary factors and changes in the exchange rate. Mr. Myasnikovich stresses that it’s too early to speak about any serious structural changes in the economy and congratulate ourselves on falling import dependence, as certain managerial decisions must be made to sustain movement in the right direction. He urges the Government to be constructive in enhancing exports and reducing imports.

According to Belarus’ Economy Minister, Nikolai Snopkov, certain positive aspects are already evident in the import-substitution programme. Over the past ten years, Belarus has manufactured $14bn of import-substitution goods, while realising about 1,500 import-substitution projects. Over $3.8bn has been invested into programmes, while 12 percent of imported products have been substituted.

Mr. Snopkov asserts that two basic conditions are required to ensure that import-substitution is successful: a capacious inner market and domestic raw and financial resources. However, according to the Minister, we currently lack both. With this in mind, Belarus is gradually developing import-substitution measures.

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