The dependence of the Belarus economy on Russian imports of oil and natural gas, combined with a negative foreign trade balance and unreconstructed Soviet-era economy emphasizing heavy industry are slowly pushing the country to the brink of collapse.
The massive negative foreign trade balance has led Belarusian economists to propose various solutions, from slowing the republic's rate of economic growth to having Belarus create a closer payment union with neighboring states, mostly notably Russia, its primary energy provider, Nezavisimaia Gazeta reported.
Caught in a fiscal downward spiral, Belarus is incapable of repaying its foreign debts without acquiring new loans.
The statistics tell the story - according to the recent data of the Belarusian National Statistical Committee, in January-May 2011 the country’s negative foreign trade balance was $3.869 billion against a negative balance of $2.738 billion for the same period the previous year. The negative trade balance was mainly the result not of trade with European nations but rather with neighboring Commonwealth of Independent State countries, like Belarus, all former republics of the Soviet Union. By May 2011 the imbalance reached $3.651 billion - 48.5 percent more than the analogous period of 2010.
To make up the shortfall, Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has spoken of the need for his fellow citizens to introduce a regime of self-sufficiency, urging Belarusians to work “28, 30, and even 50 hours a day” to help address the country’s fiscal problems.
By. Joao Peixe, Deputy Editor OilPrice.com
Joao is a writer for Oilprice.com