On February 24, 2022, Russia initiated a military conflict on the Ukrainian territory, dragging in Belarus as its ally facilitating the invasion of Ukraine, which profoundly upsets the current political context in these countries and will have substantial political and economic ramifications. For the ongoing updates on the developments of Russia-Ukraine conflict please consult the dedicated pages on BBC News.
For the latest updates on the key economic responses from governments to address the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, please consult the IMF's policy tracking platform Policy Responses to COVID-19.
Belarus is an economy in transition, with structural features inherited from the former Soviet bloc. The country is heavily dependent on Russia, which is by far its largest trading partner, and to a lesser extent on Ukraine, whose economic and political situation has exerted a negative influence on the Belarusian economy in recent years, especially following the Russian invasion. Belarus has traditionally bought gas and oil at a reduced price from Russia and its growth is largely due to the re-export of Russian oil at market prices. Since the end of the Soviet bloc, the growth of the private sector has been modest. The large subsidies granted to state-owned enterprises will no longer, in the short term, be able to increase GDP growth, according to the World Bank. Figures from the IMF show that in 2022 the country’s GDP decreased by 7% following the sanctions imposed by Western countries in light of the country’s facilitation of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which contributed to elevated inflation and supply-chain disruptions that limited household consumption and hindered exports. Stagnating real wage growth and narrowing household savings are expected to restrain private consumption in 2023, with the IMF forecasting a sluggish GDP growth (0.2%), although Fitch Ratings has a more negative outlook (-1.5%).
Since the financial crisis in 2011, Belarus' economy is still influenced by significant internal and external imbalances and is strongly supported by loans from Russia. The economy is therefore very vulnerable to external shocks and suffers from fluctuations in Russia's economic performance. Concerning public finances, after increasing following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the debt-to-GDP ratio started declining in the last couple of years and stood at 35% in 2022. The ratio is expected to follow a downward trend over the forecast horizon, at 34.3% this year and 33.1% in 2024 (IMF). One of the problems with the debt is that about one-third of it is held in foreign currencies, increasing the risks associated with the depreciation of the Belarusian ruble. Furthermore, in April 2022, the EBRD’s Board of Governors decided to suspend access to the Bank’s resources by Belarus. The government budget in 2022 recorded a deficit of 2.9% of GDP and is forecast to decrease to -0.6% in 2023, before turning positive by 0.1% the following year. Inflation spiked in 2022, reaching 16.5%, although it started slowing since August. In an effort to achieve the goals set for the government and the National Bank to keep inflation at 7-8%, a clear pricing mechanism has been established for manufacturers, importers and retailers; while the National Bank reduced the refinancing rate from 12% to 11.5% per annum in January 2023. The IMF expects the inflation rate to gradually decrease over the forecast horizon, to 13.1% this year and 11.7% in 2024.
Belarus has relatively low levels of poverty and inequality, with a poverty rate of 4.8% according to the latest figures from the World Bank (the region of Mahiliou being the poorest). In 2022, the GDP per capita (PPP) was estimated at USD 21,709 by the IMF. However, the country suffers from uneven progress in its transition to a market economy and democracy, and the current economic and political crisis threatens to increase the proportion of poor people. While still low, unemployment rose to 4.5% in 2022 and is expected to gradually decrease to 4.3% in 2023 and 3.9% in 2024 (IMF).
|Main Indicators||2020||2021||2022 (E)||2023 (E)||2024 (E)|
|GDP (billions USD)||61.31||68.21||73.12||73.54||75.26|
|GDP (Constant Prices, Annual % Change)||-0.7||2.3||-4.7||0.7||1.2|
|GDP per Capita (USD)||6,516||7,295||7,860||7,945||8,172|
|General Government Balance (in % of GDP)||-3.3||-3.2||-4.8||-1.9||-0.7|
|General Government Gross Debt (in % of GDP)||47.5||41.2||39.8||41.4||40.3|
|Inflation Rate (%)||5.5||9.5||14.8||7.5||10.1|
|Unemployment Rate (% of the Labour Force)||4.1||3.9||4.5||4.3||3.9|
|Current Account (billions USD)||-0.26||1.84||3.06||0.98||1.19|
|Current Account (in % of GDP)||-0.4||2.7||4.2||1.3||1.6|
Source: IMF – World Economic Outlook Database , Latest available data
Note: (e) Estimated Data
Belarus has several natural resources on its territory: wood, minerals, some small fields of oil and natural gas, granite, limestone, clay, sand, peat and dolomite. Agriculture accounts for 6.8% of the country's GDP and 11% of the working population (World Bank, latest data available). The main agricultural products are beef and pork, poultry, milk and cereals (including potatoes, vegetables, cucurbits and seeds). Belarus is the third-largest producer of rye and flax fibre in the world. The country is also the seventh-largest exporter of butter, the eighth-largest exporter of chicken and the twelfth-largest exporter of cheese in the world. Nearly 60% of agricultural production is concentrated in highly subsidized state-owned cooperative farms, inherited from kolkhozes (collective farms which formed the basis of the Soviet Union's agricultural policy). Belarusian agriculture is highly dependent on the Russian market to which it exports around 90% of its agricultural products. In 2022, the agricultural production in farms of all types (agricultural organisations, private farms and household plots) stood at BYN 31.8 billion, up by 3.6% compared to the previous year (Belstat).
Industry accounts for 32.2% of the country's GDP, employing around 30% of the active population. As a former country of the USSR, Belarus has a developed but ageing industrial base that is heavily subsidized. The main industries are machine tools, agricultural equipment, fertilizers, petroleum and chemical products, food products (including beverages and tobacco), prefabricated building materials, motor vehicles, textiles and household goods equipment (such as refrigerators, watches, televisions and radios). The World Bank estimates that the manufacturing sector alone contributes 23% of the country’s GDP, mainly thanks to the manufacture of food products and of coke and refined petroleum products. According to Belstat, in 2022 the volume of industrial production in current prices stood at BYN 169.6 billion, down by 5.4% compared to one year earlier.
The tertiary sector accounts for 48.3% of GDP, showing a sharp rise since the break-up of the USSR. 59% of the working population is employed in services. Information technology, transport and logistics are the fastest-growing sectors. According to Belstat, in the first three quarters of 2022 wholesale turnover reached BYN 49.7 billion (97.5% vis-à-vis the same period one year earlier), whereas retail turnover stood at BYN 46.3 billion (-1.8% year-on-year).
|Breakdown of Economic Activity By Sector||Agriculture||Industry||Services|
|Employment By Sector (in % of Total Employment)||11.1||30.4||58.6|
|Value Added (in % of GDP)||6.8||32.2||48.3|
|Value Added (Annual % Change)||-1.7||6.7||-0.2|
Source: World Bank - Latest available data.
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|Belarussian Rubble (BYR) - Average Annual Exchange Rate For 1 MUR||331.83||0.06||0.06||0.06||0.06|
Source: World Bank - Latest available data.
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The Economic freedom index measure ten components of economic freedom, grouped into four broad categories or pillars of economic freedom: Rule of Law (property rights, freedom from corruption); Limited Government (fiscal freedom, government spending); Regulatory Efficiency (business freedom, labour freedom, monetary freedom); and Open Markets (trade freedom, investment freedom, financial freedom). Each of the freedoms within these four broad categories is individually scored on a scale of 0 to 100. A country’s overall economic freedom score is a simple average of its scores on the 10 individual freedoms.
The Belarusian economy is both largely state-owned (more than 70% of GDP is generated by public or parastatal enterprises) and very open to international trade, which accounts for 139% of GDP (World Bank, latest data available). The main products exported by Belarus are oil and petroleum products, fertilizers, trucks and tractors and spare parts to them, milk and cheese, meat products, furniture and timber, and tires. Overall, more than 60% of manufactured goods are exported to foreign markets. The country’s imports are led by petroleum oils, petroleum gas, motorized vehicles for the transport of passengers, and medicaments (data by Comtrade).
Belarus’ main trading partners in 2021 were the Russian Federation (35%), Poland (4%), Ukraine (3%), Lithuania (3%), and Germany (2%); whereas imports arrived chiefly from Russia (28.6%), China (8.1%) Germany (3.6%), Ukraine (3.4%), and Poland (2.5%). As a legacy of the Soviet era, during which Belarus was the workshop of the USSR, the Russian and Belarusian production structures remained very complementary. As a result, the Belarusian economy is still strongly concentrated on the Russian market, both as a natural outlet and as its main supplier. In 2022, Belarus saw a trade surplus with Russia for the first time. Recently, trade ties with China have strengthened, as Beijing is looking for partners for its New Silk Road project; whereas the European Union, Belarus' second-largest trading partner, announced that it would not ratify the bilateral partnership and cooperation agreement with the country due to “Belarus' lack of commitment to democracy and political and civil rights”.
The country’s balance of trade has been fluctuating in recent years. In 2021, Belarus exported USD 39.7 billion worth of goods (+36.9% y-o-y) and USD 10.2 billion of commercial services (+16.6%), importing USD 41.3 billion (+26.9% y-o-y) and USD 5.6 billion (+15.1%), respectively (data by WTO). According to figures from the World Bank, Belarus registered a trade surplus of 5.5% of GDP in 2021 (from 3.1% one year earlier). Preliminary figures from Belstat show that in 2022 the turnover of foreign trade in goods totalled USD 76.9 billion (-6% y-o-y), of which exports accounted for USD 38.3 billion (-4.3%) and imports for USD 38.6 billion (-7.7%).
|Foreign Trade Indicators||2017||2018||2019||2020||2021|
|Imports of Goods (million USD)||34,235||38,440||39,480||32,601||41,387|
|Exports of Goods (million USD)||29,240||33,907||32,960||29,034||39,762|
|Imports of Services (million USD)||4,772||5,399||5,842||4,927||5,672|
|Exports of Services (million USD)||7,818||8,817||9,624||8,775||10,234|
|Imports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change)||11.1||25.3||-3.3||-12.5||17.7|
|Exports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change)||7.5||12.9||-6.3||-6.9||20.9|
|Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP)||66.6||68.9||65.8||57.9||66.6|
|Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP)||66.8||70.5||65.1||61.0||72.1|
|Trade Balance (million USD)||-2,979||-2,503||-4,193||-1,993||-667|
|Trade Balance (Including Service) (million USD)||100||929||-403||1,948||3,966|
|Foreign Trade (in % of GDP)||133.4||139.4||130.9||118.9||138.7|
Source: WTO – World Trade Organisation ; World Bank , Latest Available Data
(% of Exports)
|See More Countries||53.0%|
(% of Imports)
|See More Countries||53.7%|
Source: Comtrade, Latest Available Data
|39.9 bn USD of products exported in 2021|
|Cheese and curdCheese and curd||3.0%|
|Wood sawn or chipped lengthwise, sliced or peeled,...Wood sawn or chipped lengthwise, sliced or peeled, whether or not planed, sanded or end-jointed, of a thickness of > 6 mm||2.0%|
|Furniture and parts thereof, n.e.s. (excl. seats...Furniture and parts thereof, n.e.s. (excl. seats and medical, surgical, dental or veterinary furniture)||1.6%|
|Bars and rods, of iron or non-alloy steel, not...Bars and rods, of iron or non-alloy steel, not further worked than forged, hot-rolled, hot-drawn or hot-extruded, but incl. those twisted after rolling (excl. in irregularly wound coils)||1.4%|
|Milk and cream, concentrated or containing added...Milk and cream, concentrated or containing added sugar or other sweetening matter||1.4%|
|See More Products||90.7%|
|41.8 bn USD of products imported in 2021|
|Motor cars and other motor vehicles principally...Motor cars and other motor vehicles principally designed for the transport of persons, incl. station wagons and racing cars (excl. motor vehicles of heading 8702)||2.9%|
|Medicaments consisting of mixed or unmixed...Medicaments consisting of mixed or unmixed products for therapeutic or prophylactic uses, put up in measured doses "incl. those in the form of transdermal administration" or in forms or packings for retail sale (excl. goods of heading 3002, 3005 or 3006)||1.4%|
|Parts and accessories for tractors, motor vehicles...Parts and accessories for tractors, motor vehicles for the transport of ten or more persons, motor cars and other motor vehicles principally designed for the transport of persons, motor vehicles for the transport of goods and special purpose motor vehicles of heading 8701 to 8705, n.e.s.||1.2%|
|Telephone sets, incl. telephones for cellular...Telephone sets, incl. telephones for cellular networks or for other wireless networks; other apparatus for the transmission or reception of voice, images or other data, incl. apparatus for communication in a wired or wireless network [such as a local or wide area network]; parts thereof (excl. than transmission or reception apparatus of heading 8443, 8525, 8527 or 8528)||1.1%|
|Ferrous waste and scrap; remelting scrap ingots of...Ferrous waste and scrap; remelting scrap ingots of iron or steel (excl. slag, scale and other waste from the production of iron or steel; radioactive waste and scrap; fragments of pigs, blocks or other primary forms of pig iron or spiegeleisen)||1.1%|
|See More Products||92.3%|
Source: Comtrade, Latest Available Data
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The current largest political forces are:
- Belaya Rus: a public association that supports President Lukashenko
- Belarusian Agrarian Party (AP): left-wing, agrarian socialism
- Belarusian Socialist Sporting Party: centre-left
- Liberal Democratic Party (LDP): right-wing, conservative
- Republican Party of Labor and Justice: centre-left
- The Communist Party of Belarus (CPB): left-wing, liaises with numerous other communist parties
- Social Democratic Party of Popular Accord: centre-right, Christian democratic, opposition
- Belarusian Independence Bloc (BNB): one of three major opposition coalitions, formed by 8 parties (BPF Party; Belarusian Christian Democracy (party in process of official registration); Za svabodu ("For Freedom"; social movement under Alexander Milinkevich); Young Front (youth movement officially registered in the Czech Republic); Right Alliance; Razam; Young Belaru; YCSU Young Democrats)
- United Democratic Forces of Belarus (UDF): a pro-European coalition formed by several parties, including Belarusian United Left Party "A Just World"; United Civil Party of Belarus; Belarusian Social Democratic Party (Assembly); BPF Party (Partyia BNF); Za svabodu
- European Coalition Free Belarus: centre-left
- Conservative Christian Party (CCP): centre-right, nationalist, formerly party to the BPF
- Belarusian Green Party: centre-left, green politics.
The world rankings, published annually, measures violations of press freedom worldwide. It reflects the degree of freedom enjoyed by journalists, the media and digital citizens of each country and the means used by states to respect and uphold this freedom. Finally, a note and a position are assigned to each country. To compile this index, Reporters Without Borders (RWB) prepared a questionnaire incorporating the main criteria (44 in total) to assess the situation of press freedom in a given country. This questionnaire was sent to partner organisations,150 RWB correspondents, journalists, researchers, jurists and human rights activists. It includes every kind of direct attacks against journalists and digital citizens (murders, imprisonment, assault, threats, etc.) or against the media (censorship, confiscation, searches and harassment etc.).
The Indicator of Political Freedom provides an annual evaluation of the state of freedom in a country as experienced by individuals. The survey measures freedom according to two broad categories: political rights and civil liberties. The ratings process is based on a checklist of 10 political rights questions (on Electoral Process, Political Pluralism and Participation, Functioning of Government) and 15 civil liberties questions (on Freedom of Expression, Belief, Associational and Organizational Rights, Rule of Law, Personal Autonomy and Individual Rights). Scores are awarded to each of these questions on a scale of 0 to 4, where a score of 0 represents the smallest degree and 4 the greatest degree of rights or liberties present. The total score awarded to the political rights and civil liberties checklist determines the political rights and civil liberties rating. Each rating of 1 through 7, with 1 representing the highest and 7 the lowest level of freedom, corresponds to a range of total scores.
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