Belarus struggles with foreign trade deficit
According to the National Statistics Committee, in January – September 2014, the foreign trade in goods deficit was USD 1 931 million, and USD 354.8 million in September alone.
Russia’s embargo on food supplies form a number of countries has created favourable conditions for Belarusian food products to be exported. However, due to devaluation of the Russian rouble, exports growth plans in Belarus have needed to be readjusted. In addition, exports of Belarusian engineering products will continue to drop. The state will have to increase loan support for export enterprises, export prices will drop when exporting to the Russian market, and imports of consumer goods from Russia to Belarus will increase due to lower prices. The National Banks’ gradual devaluation policy makes improvements to the foreign trade deficit in 2014 unattainable, even within one month.
The Belarusian authorities regard the Catholic conference as yet another international event to promote Minsk as a global negotiating platform. Minsk’s proposal to organise a meeting between the Roman-Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church is rather an image-making undertaking than a serious intention. However, the authorities could somewhat extend the opportunities for the Roman-Catholic Church in Belarus due to developing contacts with the Catholic world.
Minsk is attempting to lay out a mosaic from various international religious, political and sportive events to shape a positive image of Belarus for promoting the Helsinki 2.0 idea.
Belarus’ invitation to the head of the Holy See for a meeting with the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church should be regarded as a continuation of her foreign policy efforts in shaping Minsk’s peacekeeping image and enhancing Belarus’ international weight. The Belarusian authorities are aware that their initiative is unlikely to find supporters among the leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow. In Russia, isolationist sentiments prevail.
In addition, for domestic audiences, the authorities make up for the lack of tangible economic growth with demonstrations of growth in Minsk’s authority at international level through providing a platform for religious, sportive and other dialogues.