Russia vs. Belarus


Economy - overview

Russia has undergone significant changes since the collapse of the Soviet Union, moving from a centrally planned economy towards a more market-based system. Both economic growth and reform have stalled in recent years, however, and Russia remains a predominantly statist economy with a high concentration of wealth in officials' hands. Economic reforms in the 1990s privatized most industry, with notable exceptions in the energy, transportation, banking, and defense-related sectors. The protection of property rights is still weak, and the state continues to interfere in the free operation of the private sector.

Russia is one of the world's leading producers of oil and natural gas, and is also a top exporter of metals such as steel and primary aluminum. Russia is heavily dependent on the movement of world commodity prices as reliance on commodity exports makes it vulnerable to boom and bust cycles that follow the volatile swings in global prices. The economy, which had averaged 7% growth during the 1998-2008 period as oil prices rose rapidly, has seen diminishing growth rates since then due to the exhaustion of Russia’s commodity-based growth model.

A combination of falling oil prices, international sanctions, and structural limitations pushed Russia into a deep recession in 2015, with GDP falling by close to 2.8%. The downturn continued through 2016, with GDP contracting another 0.2%, but was reversed in 2017 as world demand picked up. Government support for import substitution has increased recently in an effort to diversify the economy away from extractive industries.

As part of the former Soviet Union, Belarus had a relatively well-developed industrial base, but it is now outdated, inefficient, and dependent on subsidized Russian energy and preferential access to Russian markets. The country’s agricultural base is largely dependent on government subsidies. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, an initial burst of economic reforms included privatization of state enterprises, creation of private property rights, and the acceptance of private entrepreneurship, but by 1994 the reform effort dissipated. About 80% of industry remains in state hands, and foreign investment has virtually disappeared. Several businesses have been renationalized. State-owned entities account for 70-75% of GDP, and state banks make up 75% of the banking sector.

Economic output declined for several years following the break-up of the Soviet Union, but revived in the mid-2000s. Belarus has only small reserves of crude oil and imports crude oil and natural gas from Russia at subsidized, below market, prices. Belarus derives export revenue by refining Russian crude and selling it at market prices. Russia and Belarus have had serious disagreements over prices and quantities for Russian energy. Beginning in early 2016, Russia claimed Belarus began accumulating debt – reaching $740 million by April 2017 – for paying below the agreed price for Russian natural gas and Russia cut back 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.

New non-Russian foreign investment has been limited in recent years, largely because of an unfavorable financial climate. In 2011, a financial crisis lead to a nearly three-fold devaluation of the Belarusian ruble. The Belarusian economy has continued to struggle under the weight of high external debt servicing payments and a trade deficit. In mid-December 2014, the devaluation of the Russian ruble triggered a near 40% devaluation of the Belarusian ruble.

Belarus’s economy stagnated between 2012 and 2016, widening productivity and income gaps between Belarus and neighboring countries. Budget revenues dropped because of falling global prices on key Belarusian export commodities. Since 2015, the Belarusian government has tightened its macro-economic policies, allowed more flexibility to its exchange rate, taken some steps towards price liberalization, and reduced subsidized government lending to state-owned enterprises. Belarus returned to modest growth in 2017, largely driven by improvement of external conditions and Belarus issued sovereign debt for the first time since 2011, which provided the country with badly-needed liquidity, and issued $600 million worth of Eurobonds in February 2018, predominantly to US and British investors.

GDP (purchasing power parity)$3,968,180,000,000 (2019 est.)

$3,915,637,000,000 (2018 est.)

$3,818,780,000,000 (2017 est.)

note: data are in 2010 dollars
$181.286 billion (2019 est.)

$179.098 billion (2018 est.)

$173.63 billion (2017 est.)

note: data are in 2010 dollars
GDP - real growth rate1.34% (2019 est.)

2.54% (2018 est.)

1.83% (2017 est.)
1.22% (2019 est.)

3.17% (2018 est.)

2.53% (2017 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP)$27,044 (2019 est.)

$26,668 (2018 est.)

$26,006 (2017 est.)

note: data are in 2010 dollars
$19,150 (2019 est.)

$18,885 (2018 est.)

$18,280 (2017 est.)

note: data are in 2010 dollars
GDP - composition by sectoragriculture: 4.7% (2017 est.)

industry: 32.4% (2017 est.)

services: 62.3% (2017 est.)
agriculture: 8.1% (2017 est.)

industry: 40.8% (2017 est.)

services: 51.1% (2017 est.)
Population below poverty line12.6% (2018 est.)5% (2019 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage sharelowest 10%: 2.3%

highest 10%: 32.2% (2012 est.)
lowest 10%: 3.8%

highest 10%: 21.9% (2008)
Inflation rate (consumer prices)4.4% (2019 est.)

2.8% (2018 est.)

3.7% (2017 est.)
5.6% (2019 est.)

4.8% (2018 est.)

6% (2017 est.)
Labor force69.923 million (2020 est.)4.381 million (2016 est.)
Labor force - by occupationagriculture: 9.4%

industry: 27.6%

services: 63% (2016 est.)
agriculture: 9.7%

industry: 23.4%

services: 66.8% (2015 est.)
Unemployment rate4.6% (2019 est.)

4.8% (2018 est.)
0.8% (2017 est.)

1% (2016 est.)

note: official registered unemployed; large number of underemployed workers
Distribution of family income - Gini index37.5 (2018 est.)

41.9 (2013)
25.2 (2018 est.)

21.7 (1998)
Budgetrevenues: 258.6 billion (2017 est.)

expenditures: 281.4 billion (2017 est.)
revenues: 22.15 billion (2017 est.)

expenditures: 20.57 billion (2017 est.)
Industriescomplete range of mining and extractive industries producing coal, oil, gas, chemicals, and metals; all forms of machine building from rolling mills to high-performance aircraft and space vehicles; defense industries (including radar, missile production, advanced electronic components), shipbuilding; road and rail transportation equipment; communications equipment; agricultural machinery, tractors, and construction equipment; electric power generating and transmitting equipment; medical and scientific instruments; consumer durables, textiles, foodstuffs, handicraftsmetal-cutting machine tools, tractors, trucks, earthmovers, motorcycles, synthetic fibers, fertilizer, textiles, refrigerators, washing machines and other household appliances
Industrial production growth rate-1% (2017 est.)5.6% (2017 est.)
Agriculture - productswheat, sugar beet, milk, potatoes, barley, sunflower seed, maize, poultry, oats, soybeansmilk, potatoes, sugar beet, wheat, triticale, barley, maize, rye, rapeseed, poultry
Exports$551.128 billion (2019 est.)

$564.314 billion (2018 est.)

$534.657 billion (2017 est.)
$28.65 billion (2017 est.)

$22.98 billion (2016 est.)
Exports - commoditiescrude petroleum, refined petroleum, natural gas, coal, wheat, iron (2019)refined petroleum, fertilizers, cheese, delivery trucks, crude petroleum (2019)
Exports - partnersChina 14%, Netherlands 10%, Belarus 5%, Germany 5% (2019)Russia 42%, Ukraine 13%, United Kingdom 7% (2019)
Imports$366.919 billion (2019 est.)

$355.022 billion (2018 est.)

$345.926 billion (2017 est.)
$31.58 billion (2017 est.)

$25.61 billion (2016 est.)
Imports - commoditiescars and vehicle parts, packaged medicines, broadcasting equipment, aircraft, computers (2019)crude petroleum, natural gas, cars and vehicle parts, packaged medicines, broadcasting equipment (2019)
Imports - partnersChina 20%, Germany 13%, Belarus 6% (2019)Russia 57%, China 7%, Poland 5%, Germany 5%, Ukraine 5% (2019)
Debt - external$479.844 billion (2019 est.)

$484.355 billion (2018 est.)
$39.847 billion (2019 est.)

$39.297 billion (2018 est.)
Exchange ratesRussian rubles (RUB) per US dollar -

73.7569 (2020 est.)

63.66754 (2019 est.)

66.2 (2018 est.)

60.938 (2014 est.)

38.378 (2013 est.)
Belarusian rubles (BYB/BYR) per US dollar -

1.9 (2017 est.)

2 (2016 est.)

2 (2015 est.)

15,926 (2014 est.)

10,224.1 (2013 est.)
Fiscal yearcalendar yearcalendar year
Public debt15.5% of GDP (2017 est.)

16.1% of GDP (2016 est.)

note: data cover general government debt and include debt instruments issued (or owned) by government entities other than the treasury; the data include treasury debt held by foreign entities; the data include debt issued by subnational entities, as well as intragovernmental debt; intragovernmental debt consists of treasury borrowings from surpluses in the social funds, such as for retirement, medical care, and unemployment, debt instruments for the social funds are not sold at public auctions
53.4% of GDP (2017 est.)

53.5% of GDP (2016 est.)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold$432.7 billion (31 December 2017 est.)

$377.7 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$7.315 billion (31 December 2017 est.)

$4.927 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
Current Account Balance$65.311 billion (2019 est.)

$115.68 billion (2018 est.)
-$931 million (2017 est.)

-$1.669 billion (2016 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate)$1,702,361,000,000 (2019 est.)$63.168 billion (2019 est.)
Taxes and other revenues16.4% (of GDP) (2017 est.)40.7% (of GDP) (2017 est.)
Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)-1.4% (of GDP) (2017 est.)2.9% (of GDP) (2017 est.)
Unemployment, youth ages 15-24total: 15.2%

male: 14.8%

female: 15.6% (2019 est.)
total: 10.2%

male: 12.9%

female: 7.3% (2019 est.)
GDP - composition, by end usehousehold consumption: 52.4% (2017 est.)

government consumption: 18% (2017 est.)

investment in fixed capital: 21.6% (2017 est.)

investment in inventories: 2.3% (2017 est.)

exports of goods and services: 26.2% (2017 est.)

imports of goods and services: -20.6% (2017 est.)
household consumption: 54.8% (2017 est.)

government consumption: 14.6% (2017 est.)

investment in fixed capital: 24.9% (2017 est.)

investment in inventories: 5.7% (2017 est.)

exports of goods and services: 67% (2017 est.)

imports of goods and services: -67% (2017 est.)
Gross national saving27.6% of GDP (2019 est.)

30% of GDP (2018 est.)

25.7% of GDP (2017 est.)
27.8% of GDP (2019 est.)

29.2% of GDP (2018 est.)

28% of GDP (2017 est.)

Source: CIA Factbook