Belarus: Economy#

As part of the former Soviet Union, Belarus had a relatively well-developed, though aging industrial base; it retained this industrial base - which is now outdated, energy inefficient, and dependent on subsidized Russian energy and preferential access to Russian markets - following the breakup of the USSR. The country also has a broad agricultural base which is largely inefficient and dependent on government subsidies. After an initial burst of capitalist reform from 1991-94, including privatization of smaller state enterprises and some service sector businesses, creation of institutions of private property, and development of entrepreneurship, Belarus' economic development greatly slowed. About 80% of all industry remains in state hands, and foreign investment has been hindered by a climate hostile to business. A few banks, which had been privatized after independence, were renationalized. State banks account for 75% of the banking sector.

Economic output, which had declined for several years following the collapse of the Soviet Union, revived in the mid-2000s due to the boom in oil prices. Belarus has only small reserves of crude oil, though it imports most of its crude oil and natural gas from Russia at prices substantially below the world market. Belarus exported refined oil products at market prices produced from Russian crude oil purchased at a steep discount. In late 2006, Russia began a process of rolling back its subsidies on oil and gas to Belarus. Tensions over Russian energy reached a peak in 2010, when Russia stopped the export of all subsidized oil to Belarus save for domestic needs. In December 2010, Russia and Belarus reached a deal to restart the export of discounted oil to Belarus. In 2015, Belarus continued to import Russian crude oil at a discounted price. However, the plunge in global oil prices heavily reduced revenues.

Little new foreign investment has occurred in recent years. In 2011, a financial crisis began, triggered by government directed salary hikes unsupported by commensurate productivity increases. The crisis was compounded by an increased cost in Russian energy inputs and an overvalued Belarusian ruble, and eventually led to a near three-fold devaluation of the Belarusian ruble in 2011. In November 2011, Belarus agreed to sell to Russia its remaining shares in Beltransgaz, the Belarusian natural gas pipeline operator, in exchange for reduced prices for Russian natural gas. Receiving part of a $3 billion loan from the Russian-dominated Eurasian Economic Community (EurAsEC) Bail-out Fund, a $1 billion loan from the Russian state-owned bank Sberbank, and the $2.5 billion sale of Beltransgaz to Russian state-owned Gazprom helped stabilize the situation in 2012; nevertheless, the Belarusian currency lost more than 60% of its value, as the rate of inflation reached new highs in 2011 and 2012, before calming in 2013. In December 2013, Russia announced a new loan for Belarus of up to $2 billion for 2014. Notwithstanding foreign assistance, the Belarusian economy continued to struggle under the weight of high external debt servicing payments and trade deficit. In mid-December 2014, structural economic shortcomings were aggravated by the devaluation of the Russian ruble and triggered a near 40% devaluation of the Belarusian ruble. Belarus entered 2015 with stagnant economic growth and reduced hard currency reserves, with under one month of import cover.

Economic Facts#

GDP (purchasing power parity)$165.4 billion (2016 est.)
$170.5 billion (2015 est.)
$177.4 billion (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars
GDP (official exchange rate)$48.13 billion (2015 est.)
GDP - real growth rate-3% (2016 est.)
-3.9% (2015 est.)
1.7% (2014 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP)$17,500 (2016 est.)
$17,900 (2015 est.)
$18,700 (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars
Gross national saving21.9% of GDP (2016 est.)
30.2% of GDP (2015 est.)
28.5% of GDP (2014 est.)
GDP - composition, by end usehousehold consumption: 54.6%
government consumption: 15.8%
investment in fixed capital: 30.1%
investment in inventories: 2.6%
exports of goods and services: 57.2%
imports of goods and services: -60.3% (2016 est.)
GDP - composition, by sector of originagriculture: 9.2%
industry: 40.9%
services: 49.8% (2016 est.)
Agriculture - productsgrain, potatoes, vegetables, sugar beets, flax; beef, milk
Industriesmetal-cutting machine tools, tractors, trucks, earthmovers, motorcycles, televisions, synthetic fibers, fertilizer, textiles, radios, refrigerators
Industrial production growth rate-3% (2016 est.)
Labor force4.546 million (2013 est.)
Labor force - by occupationagriculture: 9.3%
industry: 32.7%
services: 58% (2014 est.)
Unemployment rate0.7% (2014 est.)
0.5% (2013 est.)
note: official registered unemployed; large number of underemployed workers
Population below poverty line6.3% (2012 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage sharelowest 10%: 3.8%
highest 10%: 21.9% (2008)
Distribution of family income - Gini index26.5 (2011)
21.7 (1998)
Budgetrevenues: $21.21 billion
expenditures: $20.92 billion (2016 est.)
Taxes and other revenues44.1% of GDP (2016 est.)
Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)0.6% of GDP (2016 est.)
Public debt60.7% of GDP (2016 est.)
48.5% of GDP (2015 est.)
Fiscal yearcalendar year
Inflation rate (consumer prices)14% (2016 est.)
13.6% (2015 est.)
Central bank discount rate20% (13 August 2014)
10.5% (31 December 2010)
Commercial bank prime lending rate18% (31 December 2016 est.)
18.08% (31 December 2015 est.)
Stock of narrow money$2.232 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$2.301 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Stock of broad money$5.651 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
$7.608 billion (31 December 2014 est.)
Stock of domestic credit$24.09 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$22.23 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Market value of publicly traded shares$NA
Current account balance-$2.379 billion (2016 est.)
-$2.074 billion (2015 est.)
Exports$22.65 billion (2016 est.)
$26.19 billion (2015 est.)
Exports - commoditiesmachinery and equipment, mineral products, chemicals, metals, textiles, foodstuffs
Exports - partnersRussia 39%, UK 11.2%, Ukraine 9.5%, Netherlands 4.3%, Germany 4.1% (2015)
Imports$25.44 billion (2016 est.)
$28.33 billion (2015 est.)
Imports - commoditiesmineral products, machinery and equipment, chemicals, foodstuffs, metals
Imports - partnersRussia 56.6%, China 7.9%, Germany 4.6% (2015)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold$4.206 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$4.176 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Debt - external$34.75 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$34.85 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - at home$10.17 billion (31 December 2014 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad$6 billion (31 December 2014 est.)
Exchange ratesBelarusian rubles (BYB/BYR) per US dollar -
18,500 (2016 est.)
15,926 (2015 est.)
15,926 (2014 est.)
10,224.1 (2013 est.)
8,336.9 (2012 est.)