Export requires new mechanisms to support competitiveness
Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Guryanov said that the attenuation of the Br exchange rate has been exhausted for the Belarusian exporters. “To increase sales in foreign markets they have to rely on other mechanisms”.
Mr. Guryanov noted 2011 was rather successful for Belarus in terms of foreign trade balance. The foreign trade balance in goods and services in 2011 was negative amounting to USD 1.64 billion, while projection was minus USD 5.7 billion. The Belarusian exports compared to 2010 increased by 56.1%. Exports increased by USD 46.6 billion. However, “the effect of the devaluation of 2011 has been exhausted. Stability in the foreign exchange market should make exporters to rely on other factors”, Mr. Guryanov said. “Other” factors in his opinion include: increasing of export volumes, as well as supply of new products. However, his words sound rather like a mantra as the Belarusian export increasingly focuses on raw materials (potassium and petroleum products account for over one half of total exports), the country is losing its traditional markets and the proportion of new and innovative products in the overall production is decreasing. Belarusian companies are increasingly losing to their Russian and Ukrainian rivals.
Mr. Guryanov believes that by the end of 2012 Belarus could really come to a positive trade balance of USD 1.5 billion. In his view, this could be achieved due to the lack of excessive demand for passenger cars (main trend of the first half of 2011), reduced gas prices and better conditions of Russian oil supply, as compared with 2011. Whether these expectations and assumptions are backed up by real calculations, is a serious question.
The Labour and the Tax Ministries are considering the possibility to include persons engaged in some economic activity without forming a legal entity in the social security system. When the decree No 337 comes into effect, the number of private entrepreneurs is likely to reduce due to the possibility of reducing the tax burden when switching to a tax payment as an individual. 95% of self-employed, including PE, pay insurance premiums on the basis of the minimum wage. The number of self-employed citizens is expected to increase, the number of insurance contributions to the pension system from PE will decrease, the number of citizens who will pay a fee to finance government spending will decrease by several tens. Self-employed citizens have the alternative not to pay social security fees and save resources for future pensions, which, given the gradual restriction by the state of pension requirements could be a more long-sighted option.