Belarus Export Market Research – Business Partner Search

Belarus Export Market Research

Quick facts:

Territory 207,600 km²
Population 9.463 million (1 January 2013)
Currency Belarusian rouble (BYR)
Capital Minsk – 1.9 million inhabitants
Official language Belarusian, Russian
Memberships Eurasian Group (EAG)
Real GDP per capita 55.724 million BYR / ca 5178 EUR  (2012)
Growth of GDP, % 5.5% – 2011; 1.5% – 2012; Forecast: 4.7% – Av.2011-2015
Average gross salary 5,159,900 BYR / 456 EUR (June 2013)
VAT rate 20% – general rate; 10% – reduced rate
Company Income Tax 18%
Phone code +375
Top domain .by

The Republic of Belarus is a post Soviet country located between the Russian Federation, the Ukraine, Poland, Latvia and Lithuania. Belarus declared its independence in 27 July 1990 during the dissolution of the Soviet Union. However, unlike the other post Soviet countries, Belarus did not run a widespread privatisation of its industry. As a result, the major part of the country’s economy is still state owned today.  Small businesses account for only around 20%-30% of the economy. Since 2009, as an integral part of Belarus’ investment drive, the country has been running its Privatisation Program, the aim of which in the long term is to transfer state-owned enterprises to private ownership. In 2010, the Government prepared a list of ca 150 leading businesses for sale and another 500 for conversion into Joint Stock companies. It was estimated that the program would help to generate 80 billion USD of investment by 2013.

Despite the country’s location in the centre of Europe, its Democracy Index is the lowest in Europe. According to the Freedom House, Belarus is “Not Free” and the Index of Economic Freedom lists the country as “Repressed”.

According to the National Bank of Belarus, during the past 2 years the country’s FDIs have been increasing by around 50% per year. Thus, as of January 2013, Belarusia’ FDI amounted to 470.7 million USD; a 54% increase compared to the previous year.  The majority (85% in 2012) of the FDIs are coming from CIS, mainly, Russia and Ukraine. The rest of the FDIs attracted during 2010-2012 came from Lithuania, Venezuela and China.

During 2006-2010, Belarus’ economy was growing at an average 8%, mainly due to cheap oil and gas delivered from Russia and re-sold it at world prices. Nevertheless, in 2011, the country faced the financial crisis, the local currency exchange rate in relation to USD increased almost 3 fold, accompanied by a 108.7% inflation and a 125% increase in food product prices. At the same time salaries dropped from ca 500 USD to 250-450 USD per month. In 2012 the situation stabilised, inflation was held at 21% and salaries got back to the level of previous years.

In 2012, Belarus’ GDP increased by 1.5% instead of that predicted by the Government of 5-5.5%, and amounted to 58.22 billion USD (nominal). According to Eurasian Development bank, Belarus’ average GDP growth rate during 2011-2015 will be 4.7%, which will decrease to 2.6% during 2016-2020.

Belarus’ main export commodities are mineral products that account for more than 1/3 of the total exports, followed by chemical products and rubber, cars / equipment and vehicles, food and agricultural raw materials, black / non-ferrous metals & products thereof and other commodities.

The main sectors of the economy include: metallurgy, machinery & metal working, chemical & petrochemical industry, electrical energy industry, light industry, food industry, forestry and wood processing. The country is also actively developing its service sector and aims to increase its share in GDP.

In January 2010 Belarus, Russia and Kazakhstan launched the Customs Union which removed customs borders between the countries. On 1 January 2012 the countries took another step towards economic integration and created a single economic zone, or so called Common Economic Space.