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Belarus Economy Profile 2017

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Economy - overviewAs part of the former Soviet Union, Belarus had a relatively well-developed, though aging industrial base; it retained this industrial base - which is now outdated, energy inefficient, and dependent on subsidized Russian energy and preferential access to Russian markets - following the breakup of the USSR. The country also has a broad agricultural base which is largely inefficient and dependent on government subsidies. After an initial burst of capitalist reform from 1991-94, including privatization of smaller state enterprises and some service sector businesses, creation of institutions of private property, and development of entrepreneurship, Belarus' economic development greatly slowed. About 80% of all industry remains in state hands, and foreign investment has been hindered by a reluctance to welcome private investment absent joint ownership or affiliation with the state. A few businesses, which had been privatized after independence, were renationalized. State banks account for 75% of the banking sector.

Economic output, which had declined for several years following the collapse of the Soviet Union, revived in the mid-2000s due to the boom in oil prices. Belarus has only small reserves of crude oil, though it imports most of its crude oil and natural gas from Russia at prices substantially below world market prices. Belarus then derives export revenue by refining Russian crude and selling it at market prices. In late 2006, Russia began a process of rolling back its subsidies on oil and gas exports to Belarus. Several times since, Russia and Belarus have had serious disagreements over the level and price of Russian energy supplies. At one point in 2010, Russia stopped the export of all subsidized oil to Belarus save for domestic needs before the two countries reached a deal to restart the export of discounted oil to Belarus. Beginning in early 2016, Russia claims Belarus began accumulating debt – reaching $740 million by April 2017 – for paying below an agreed price for Russian natural gas. Russia decided to reduce its export of crude oil as a result of the debt. In April 2017, Belarus agreed to pay its gas debt and Russia restored the flow of crude.

Little new non-Russian foreign investment has occurred in recent years. In 2011, a financial crisis began, triggered by government-directed salary hikes, compounded by an increased cost in Russian energy inputs and an overvalued Belarusian ruble that lead to a nearly three-fold devaluation of the Belarusian ruble. In November 2011, Belarus agreed to sell to Russia its remaining shares of Beltransgaz, the Belarusian natural gas pipeline operator, in exchange for reduced prices for Russian natural gas. The situation stabilized in 2012, after Belarus received part of a $3 billion loan from the Russian-dominated Eurasian Economic Community Bail-out Fund, a $1 billion loan from the Russian state-owned bank Sberbank, and $2.5 billion from the sale of Beltransgaz to Russian state-owned Gazprom; nevertheless, the Belarusian currency lost more than 60% of its value, as inflation reached new highs in 2011 and 2012, before calming in 2013. In December 2013, Russia announced a new loan for Belarus of up to $2 billion for 2014. Notwithstanding foreign assistance, the Belarusian economy continued to struggle under the weight of high external debt servicing payments and trade deficit. In mid-December 2014, structural economic shortcomings were aggravated by the devaluation of the Russian ruble, which triggered a near 40% devaluation of the Belarusian ruble.

Belarus entered 2016 with a contracting economy and minimal hard currency reserves. Since 2012, Belarus’s economy has suffered stagnation, which has led to widening productivity and income gaps between Belarus and neighboring countries. Since 2015, the Belarusian government has tightened its monetary policies (including allowing a more flexible exchange rate regime) and reduced subsidized government lending to state-owned industrial and agricultural enterprises, amid a drop in state budget revenues owing to falling global prices on key Belarusian export commodities - petroleum products and potash fertilizer. In 2016, GDP and foreign trade fell and unemployment rose, while inflation declined and hard currency reserves increased.
GDP (purchasing power parity)$166 billion (2016 est.)
$170.5 billion (2015 est.)
$177.4 billion (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars
GDP (official exchange rate)$48.13 billion (2016 est.)
GDP - real growth rate-2.6% (2016 est.)
-3.9% (2015 est.)
1.7% (2014 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP)$17,500 (2016 est.)
$17,900 (2015 est.)
$18,700 (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars
Gross national saving21.9% of GDP (2016 est.)
30.2% of GDP (2015 est.)
28.5% of GDP (2014 est.)
GDP - composition, by end usehousehold consumption: 54.6%
government consumption: 15.8%
investment in fixed capital: 30.1%
investment in inventories: 2.6%
exports of goods and services: 57.2%
imports of goods and services: -60.3% (2016 est.)
GDP - composition by sectoragriculture: 9.2%
industry: 40.9%
services: 49.8% (2016 est.)
Population below poverty line5.7% (2016 est.)
Labor force4.381 million (2016 est.)
Labor force - by occupationagriculture: 9.7%
industry: 23.4%
services: 66.8% (2015 est.)
Unemployment rate0.8% (2016 est.)
1% (2015 est.)
note: official registered unemployed; large number of underemployed workers
Unemployment, youth ages 15-24total: 12.5%
male: 12.4%
female: 12.6% (2009 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage sharelowest 10%: 3.8%
highest 10%: 21.9% (2008)
Distribution of family income - Gini index26.5 (2011)
21.7 (1998)
Budgetrevenues: $21.21 billion
expenditures: $20.92 billion (2016 est.)
Taxes and other revenues44.1% of GDP (2016 est.)
Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)0.6% of GDP (2016 est.)
Public debt60.7% of GDP (2016 est.)
48.5% of GDP (2015 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices)14% (2016 est.)
13.6% (2015 est.)
Central bank discount rate14% (19 April 2017)
15% (15 March 2017)
Commercial bank prime lending rate18% (31 December 2016 est.)
18.08% (31 December 2015 est.)
Stock of narrow money$2.232 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$2.301 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Stock of broad money$5.651 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
$7.608 billion (31 December 2014 est.)
Stock of domestic credit$24.09 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$22.23 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Market value of publicly traded shares$NA
Agriculture - productsgrain, potatoes, vegetables, sugar beets, flax; beef, milk
Industriesmetal-cutting machine tools, tractors, trucks, earthmovers, motorcycles, , synthetic fibers, fertilizer, textiles, , refrigerators, washing machines and other household appliances
Industrial production growth rate-0.4% (2016 est.)
Current Account Balance-$2.118 billion (2016 est.)
-$2.037 billion (2015 est.)
Exports$22.65 billion (2016 est.)
$26.19 billion (2015 est.)
Exports - commoditiesmachinery and equipment, mineral products, chemicals, metals, textiles, foodstuffs
Exports - partnersRussia 39.1%, UK 11.1%, Ukraine 9.5%, Netherlands 4.3%, Germany 4.1% (2015)
Imports$25.44 billion (2016 est.)
$28.33 billion (2015 est.)
Imports - commoditiesmineral products, machinery and equipment, chemicals, foodstuffs, metals
Imports - partnersRussia 56.6%, China 7.9%, Germany 4.6% (2015)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold$4.206 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$4.176 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Debt - external$34.75 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$34.85 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - at home$6.929 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$7.241 billion (31 December 2015)
Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad$3.547 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$4.649 billion (31 December 2015)
Exchange ratesBelarusian rubles (BYB/BYR) per US dollar -
18,500 (2016 est.)
15,926 (2015 est.)
15,926 (2014 est.)
10,224.1 (2013 est.)
8,336.9 (2012 est.)
Fiscal yearcalendar year

Source: CIA World Factbook
This page was last updated on July 9, 2017

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