The economy of Belarus is still deep in recession but the situation is improving as GDP was up in the first quarter as the republic starts to follow the rest of the region into recovery.
The GDP of Belarus increased by 0.9% year-on-year in January-May following 0.5 y/y growth in January-April and 0.3% growth in the first quarter of the year, the Belstat state statistics committee reported on June 16.
The recoveries in Russia and the EU is lifting the boat in Minsk and boosting trade. Unlike the other CIS countries Belarus has significant trade with the west.
Foreign trade in merchandise and services totaled $20.706bn, 17.9% up from January-April 2016. Export reached $10.413bn (19.5% up), with import at $10.292bn (16.3% up). The surplus of the foreign trade in merchandise and services totaled $120.5mn.
A surplus was also reported in January-March 2017. Belarus' foreign merchandise trade rose by 20.2% to $17.366bn. Merchandise export grew by 21.3% to $8.235bn, with import up by 19.2% to $9.13bn.
However, the repoublic facing a heavy debt repayment schedule this year so the main problem for the government remains how to finance it. Talks on a $3bn IMF deal seemed to have failed. Russia has stepped into the breach with an offer of a $700mn loan that will tide the republic over. And the govt successfully issued a $1.4bn Eurobond in June that goes a long way to fill the hole so Belarus will once again muddle through 2017.
Politically things have quietened down after the demonstrations in May. President LUkashenko seems to have also made up with Russia following a protracted row over oil and gas prices.
However, LUkashenko burnt up most of the good will it earned in Brussels in recent years by the heavy handed crackdown on the recent protests.
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