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Opinions & Interviews

9 Apr 2018

Opinion: Belarus’ foreign trade on the rise thanks to economic liberalization

Opinion: Belarus’ foreign trade on the rise thanks to economic liberalization

MINSK, 9 April (BelTA) – Belarus’ foreign trade has considerably increased in the wake of the liberalization of economic activities, Belarus’ First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Andrei Evdochenko said in an interview to the Direktor magazine, BelTA has learned.

In 2017, Belarus’ trade in goods and services increased by 21.5% in comparison with 2016 to reach $72.8 billion. Belarus’ trade surplus, which is the main indicator of foreign trade efficiency, improved by $133.8 million.

“On the one hand, it is a serious growth, as we surpassed the figures of the previous two years. However, if we look back at a more distant past, we will see that the foreign trade reached $102.9 billion in 2012, Belarus’ record-high achievement. This is the benchmark we should aim for. There were several reasons for the growth of Belarus' foreign trade in 2017. Among external factors, I would name gradual but still unstable growth of the global economy, restoration of foreign markets, the growth of consumption in the corporate and private sectors. This stimulated the growth of the global trade both in terms of prices and supplies,” said Andrei Evdochenko.

According to the first deputy minister, the internal factors of the foreign trade growth included joint steps by the government and business to promote the liberalization of economic activities, development of the corresponding legal framework, improvement of trade infrastructure, mechanisms and instruments to promote exports.

Modernization has helped a number of Belarusian companies expand the production of goods which are in demand abroad. More small and medium-sized companies start to explore foreign markets. A systemic work to secure more preferential access to foreign markets for Belarusian goods and services, remove barriers and restrictions in trade with foreign partners bring results.

Andrei Evdochenko acknowledged that the deficit in trade in goods remains a systemic problem. In 2017 the deficit was $5 billion having increased by $950 million over 2016.

He also drew attention to the weak diversification of the export of services. The export is dominated by transport (45%), computer (14.7%) and construction (11.7%) services. Belarus attaches great importance to the trade in services within the framework of the Eurasian Economic Union, the CIS and bilateral cooperation with foreign countries. “However, in order to satiate the international markets with the Belarusian services, we need to go the basic part of the way as part of ‘the home assignment’,” Andrei Evdochenko said. This is due to the fact that unlike the export of goods that cross the customs border of Belarus (the EAEU) and that are used by consumers abroad, services are mainly provided by non-residents, i.e. foreign companies and citizens, in the territory of Belarus, the deputy minister said.

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