Republic of Belarus
Belarus became a full-fledged member of the Eurasian Development Bank in 2010. Belarus economy is closely connected with the economies of other members of the Bank, mainly with Russia and Kazakhstan. The establishment of the Customs Union will have a strong positive impact on further development of such ties and formation of the best economic specialization of Belarus. Further evolution to Common Economic Space is of significant interest to the Republic.
According to preliminary estimates, economic recession in Belarus deepened again in Q4 2015, with a year-one-year decrease in the country's GDP approximating 5%. This indicator was 4.54% in Q2, 4.45% in Q3, and 3.9% in 2015 overall. All key economic sectors were facing a decline in 2015: 3.5% in agriculture, 7.8% in mining, 4.1% in processing, 9.5% in construction, and 1.6% in trade. Last-year GDP reduction was primarily due to lower investments in equity, which fell by 15.2% in 2015. A stronger decline in investments in Q4, which can be attributed in part to the high comparison base effect, was one of the reasons for further GDP reduction in the period as against Q1-Q3.
Inflation continued to go down for most part of Q4 and reached a minimum of 11.3% in November starting from February 2011. In December, prices surged because of revisions of some regulated tariffs and, as a result, CPI growth rates jumped to 12% compared to December 2014. However, this indicator remained significantly lower than in the previous year, when it stood at 17.1%. The slow growth in prices in the end of 2015 was ensured by the high stability of the Belarusian rouble relative to the official currency basket (US dollar, euro and Russian rouble) backed by the National Bank's tough monetary policy. In particular, the M2 money supply remained negative since August 2014 and its amount declined gradually in October and November.
The persistently high REER (the average growth was 3.6% on 2014) and seasonal factors such as higher energy carrier imports in the year-end worsened the country's balance of payments in Q4. The current account deficit increased from US $73.7 million in Q3 to US $1,091.7 million in Q4. Although the nominal current account deficit was significantly lower than in Q4 2014 when it stood at US $1,868.9 million, its size relative to GDP was material (8.3%) and just a little bit lower than in Q4 2014 (9.3% of GDP). Therefore, the noticeable improvements in the balance of payments demonstrated in Q2 and Q3 were practically neutralised. The National Bank's tough control over the Belarusian rouble exchange rate vis-a-vis the currency basket decreased its international reserves further, which shrunk to US $4.2 billion as at year-end from US $5.06 billion a month before.
Nevertheless, government finance in 2015 performed better than in the previous year. The country's consolidated budget produced a surplus of 1.5% of GDP. In 2014, the surplus was 1.1% of GDP. The government continued to use this surplus to repay its debts.
In the context of the stringent monetary policy, the annual growth rate in bank lending decreased to 20% in December from 30.5% in September and the total lending amount reduced over the last three months of the year.м
EDB’s priorities in Belarus
In the framework of its Strategy for 2013–2017:
• EDB will support implementation of the ‘State Programme of Innovation Development of the Republic of Belarus for 2011–2015’.
• EDB will continue financing enterprises of the real sector of the economy with a high export potential: transport and agricultural machine building, chemical and food industries. EDB will facilitate introduction of leasing products to promote the goods of Belarusian manufacturers in the markets of other member states.
• Investment in power generation will continue: development of the network facilities, new and efficient power generation, and other projects promoting reduction of the country’s dependence on imported energy resources and improvement of its energy efficiency
• In addition, EDB will support implementation of transport infrastructure projects to help Belarus realise its transit potential.
• Financing of the banking sector will continue in the framework of targeted programmes aimed at supporting small and medium business development as the institutional basis of the market economy.