Minsk seeking for ways to deceive Moscow
Recent Belarus’s foreign trade balance poses a serious threat to country’s economy development, Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes. The foreign trade surplus which secured the fx stability of Belarus has recently plummeted down by around 18 times.
The economy experts say such a drastic decrease occurred after Russia had halted grey exports of Belarusian oil products to Europe. The political scientists say Russia still keeps Belarus on the "energy hook".
The H1 2012 was a favourable period: officials reported the superiority of exports over imports enhancing financial stability.
Even strict non-governmental experts said a new devaluation was unlikely while foreign trade balance stays positive.
However, the latest statistics on July foreign trade surplus by Belstat is alarming. In July, Belarus earned only $23mln selling goods abroad vs. $430mln it made in June, 2012.
The National Statistic Committee says exports decreased by $270mln while imports increased by $140mln. The total foreign trade surplus in H1 is $2bln what is a good result as it was minus $3.4mln in H1, 2011.
"The positive foreign trade balance will decrease further," says Leanid Zaika, a Belarusian expert on economy.
"The eagerness to make a profit on export of thinners and solvents led to a harsh response by Russia, and now we may see the positive foreign trade balance collapsing in a moment."
Moreover, there are mistakes in internal policy which result into the decrease of foreign trade surplus.
"Wages, doles, pensions grow. It causes the growth of demand and imports, but other indicators do not catch up with them. Belarus’ GDP has increased by 3 per cent but salaried increased by ca. 30 per cent in foreign exchange equivalent," the expert notes.
There are are several ways out from the approaching trap. If do nothing, the foreign trade balance will turn negative by the end of the year. This and also higher salaries — which were promised to be significantly increased before upcoming parliamentary elections — will put too much pressure on fx market and Belarus will have to devaluate Belarusian ruble.
Liberal market reforms could be the second option. They could enhance fx flows both from privatization and increased effectiveness from no-any-longer-state enterprises. However, experts doubt Belarusian authorities may pick this way.
Expert on energy market Tacciana Manionak supposes that "Belarus will further seek for other alternatives. While there are opportunities of duty free oil and oil products export, new schemes are needed."
Simultaneously, Ukraine became cautious about growing import of Belarusian oil products to the country. This year, 83 per cent more diesel fuel — thanks to close to Lukashenka Belarusian oligarch Jury Chyzh and his company Triple — was exported to Ukraine.
Experts says the fuel exported to Ukraine is biodiesel produced from Russian low-sulfur diesel which is imported to Belarus duty free. Then, Belarusian diesel is exported to Ukraine without paying duty to Russia, too.
The optimistic prospects are only spoiled by political analysts who say that Russian realizes all shadow processes in Belarus and solves the issues behind-the-scene simply because it is a suitable way now. However, taking Lukashenka off its "energy hook" is not Moscow’s plan. The dependence will be permanent and the reckoning for lavishing subsidies may be Belarus’ property at best and personal power and country’s independency — at worst.