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    Belarus Economy 1998

      Economy - overview The Belarusian government has revived economic output since mid-1996 by pursuing a policy of rapid credit expansion, ending years of cumulative decline. Real GDP increased by 2.6% in 1996 and the growth rate tripled in 1997. Lack of profitability and resurgent inflation - which increased from an average monthly rate of 2.8% in 1996 to 4.4% in 1997 - however, have kept enterprises from making much needed capital investments. As a result, infrastructure and equipment stocks have continued to deteriorate. Belarus has seen little structural reform since 1995, when LUKASHENKO launched the country on the path of "market socialism." Privatization of enterprises controlled by the central government virtually ceased in 1996. As of May 1997, only about 10% of all enterprises under central government control had been privatized. In addition, LUKASHENKO has re-imposed administrative control over prices and the national currency's exchange rate, and expanded the state's right to intervene arbitrarily in the management of private enterprise. Lack of structural reform, and a climate hostile to business, have inhibited foreign investment in Belarus in 1995-97. In 1995 Belarus ranked second to last among the 15 former Soviet republics in terms of the average amount of foreign investment it attracted per capita. Although it moved up to 11th place in 1996, this was largely due to inflows from Russia related to the construction of the Yamal natural gas pipeline. Belarus's trade deficit has grown steadily over the past three years - from 8% of total trade turnover in 1995 to 14% in the first quarter of 1997 - despite the government's efforts to promote exports and limit imports. Given Belarus's limited fiscal reserve, a continued growth in the trade deficit will increase vulnerability to a balance of payments crisis.

      GDP purchasing power parity - $50.4 billion (1997 est.)

      GDP - real growth rate 8.5% (1997 est.)

      GDP - per capita purchasing power parity - $4,800 (1997 est.)

      GDP - composition by sector
      agriculture: 20%
      industry: 43%
      services: 37% (1997 est.)

      Inflation rate - consumer price index 65% (1997 est.)

      Labor force
      total: 4.3 million
      by occupation: industry and construction 40%, agriculture and forestry 19%, services 41% (1997 est.)

      Unemployment rate 3.3% officially registered unemployed (July 1997); large numbers of underemployed workers

      revenues: $4 billion
      expenditures: $4.1 billion, including capital expenditures of $180 million (1997 est.)

      Industries tractors, metal-cutting machine tools, off-highway dump trucks up to 110-metric-ton load capacity, wheel-type earth movers for construction and mining, eight-wheel-drive, high-flotation trucks with cargo capacity of 25 metric tons for use in tundra and roadless areas, equipment for animal husbandry and livestock feeding, motorcycles, television sets, chemical fibers, fertilizer, linen fabric, wool fabric, radios, refrigerators, other consumer goods

      Industrial production growth rate 17% (1997 est.)

      Electricity - capacity 7.21 million kW (1997)

      Electricity - production 23.7 billion kWh (1996)

      Electricity - consumption per capita 3,144 kWh (1996)

      Agriculture - products grain, potatoes, vegetables; meat, milk

      total value: $5.4 billion (f.o.b., 1996)
      commodities: machinery and transport equipment, chemicals, foodstuffs
      partners: Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Germany

      total value: $6.7 billion (c.i.f., 1996)
      commodities: fuel, natural gas, industrial raw materials, textiles, sugar
      partners: Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Germany

      Debt - external $970 million (December 1997 est.)

      Economic aid
      recipient: ODA, $186 million (1993)
      note: commitments, $3,930 million ($1,845 million disbursements), 1992-95

      Currency Belarusian rubel (BR)

      Exchange rates Belarusian rubels per US$1 - 31,030 (19 January 1998 official Belarusian exchange rate), 28,800 (October 1997 end of period),15,500 (yearend 1996), 11,500 (yearend 1995), 10,600 (yearend 1994), 699 (yearend 1993)

      Fiscal year calendar year

      NOTE: The information regarding Belarus on this page is re-published from the 1998 World Fact Book of the United States Central Intelligence Agency. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Belarus Economy 1998 information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Belarus Economy 1998 should be addressed to the CIA.

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    Revised 21-Dec-01
    Copyright © 2001 Photius Coutsoukis (all rights reserved)