Belarusian Economy
Economy - overview: 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Belarus had a relatively well-developed, though aging industrial base; it retained this industrial base - which is now outdated, energy inefficient, and dependent on subsidized Russian energy and preferential access to Russian markets - following the breakup of the USSR.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 thanks 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 more than half 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 Beltranzgas 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. As of January 2014, the final tranche of the EurAsEC loan has been delayed. 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.
GDP (purchasing power parity): $172.3 billion (2014 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate): $76.14 billion (2014 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 1.6% (2014 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP): $18,200 (2014 est.)
GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 7.3%
industry: 37%
services: 55.7% (2014 est.)
Labor force: 4.546 million (2013 est.)
Labor force - by occupation: agriculture: 9.3%
industry: 32.7%
services: 58% (2014 est.)
Unemployment rate: 0.7% (2014 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: 3.8%
highest 10%: 21.9% (2008)
Investment (gross fixed): 36.6% of GDP (2009 est.)
Budget: revenues: $26.55 billion
expenditures: $26.71 billion (2014 est.)
Public debt: 22.3% of GDP (2014 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 16.2% (2014 est.)
Central bank discount rate: 20% (13 August 2014)
Commercial bank prime lending rate: 20% (31 December 2014 est.)
Agriculture - products: grain, potatoes, vegetables, sugar beets, flax; beef, milk
Industries: metal-cutting machine tools, tractors, trucks, earthmovers, motorcycles, televisions, synthetic fibers, fertilizer, textiles, radios, refrigerators
Industrial production growth rate: 1.9% (2014 est.)
Electricity - production: 31.5 billion kWh (2013 est.)
Electricity - consumption: 37.88 billion kWh (2013 est.)
Electricity - exports: 2.797 billion kWh (2012 est.)
Electricity - imports: 6.716 billion kWh (2013 est.)
Oil - production: 30,000 bbl/day (2014 est.)
Oil - consumption: 184,000 bbl/day (2008 est.)
Oil - exports: 32,320 bbl/day (2012 est.)
Oil - imports: 433,400 bbl/day (2012 est.)
Oil - proved reserves: 198 million bbl (1 January 2015 est.)
Natural gas - production: 210 million cu m (2013 est.)
Natural gas - consumption: 22.28 billion cu m (2013 est.)
Natural gas - exports: 0 cu m (2013 est.)
Natural gas - imports: 20.1 billion cu m (2014 est.)
Natural gas - proved reserves: 2.832 billion cu m (1 January 2014 est.)
Current account balance: -$4.644 billion (2014 est.)
Exports: $37.89 billion (2014 est.)
Exports - commodities: machinery and equipment, mineral products, chemicals, metals, textiles, foodstuffs
Exports - partners: Russia 42.2%, Ukraine 11.3%, UK 8.2%, Netherlands 4.8%, Germany 4.6% (2014)
Imports: $40.47 billion (2014 est.)
Imports - commodities: mineral products, machinery and equipment, chemicals, foodstuffs, metals
Imports - partners: Russia 54.6%, Germany 6%, China 5.8%, Ukraine 4.1% (2014)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold: $3.483 billion (31 December 2014 est.)
Debt - external: $40.02 billion (31 December 2014 est.)
Exchange rates: Belarusian rubles (BYB/BYR) per US dollar - 10,685 (2014 est.), 8,880.1 (2013 est.), 8,336.9 (2012 est.), 4,974.6 (2011 est.), 2,978.5 (2010 est.)
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Update: This page was last updated on 10 November 2015
Sources: 1. CIA, The World Factbook, https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ae.html
2. DIBNC Experts Team