«To shoot yourself in both legs». Where can threats of blocking oil and gas lead to

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4 mins

На русском языке: ​​«Выстрелить себе в обе ноги». К чему могут привести угрозы перекрыть нефть и газ
На беларускай мове: «Стрэліць сабе ў абедзве нагі». Да чаго могуць прывесці пагрозы перакрыць нафту і газ

The foreign trade balance of Belarus remains positive, despite sanctions, lockdowns, a political crisis, a lot of complex internal problems. It really seems amazing. Where do the resources come from? The Telegram channel «Nashy Groshy» decided to figure out the foreign economic Belarusian «miracle». To understand what it stays on and how long it will surprise with positive dynamics, despite the mass of negative prerequisites.

Belarus is a country that is extremely dependent on a foreign trade. We earn on transit, sell a large amount of our goods abroad. And in order to produce these goods, we buy a lot of fuel and components abroad. We can’t get cheap energy and minerals from the ground, and live with huge profits actually under our feet like Russia.

Foreign economic activity of any country is divided into two large parts: trade in goods and trade in services. What do we see? The main volume of foreign trade turnover of Belarus is made up of goods. In January-September 2021, we exported goods to other countries for $27 billion. Exports of services amounted to $7.5 billion, which is significantly less.

Actually, there’s one exception. Selling goods worth $27 billion, the economy had to buy goods (most of which are, of course, energy) for $28 billion. And the situation with services is exactly the opposite: for 9 months, we sold them for $7.5 billion, and at the same time bought services for $4.1 billion

So it turns out that the foreign trade balance on goods sold for 9 months is -$0.6 billion (that’s how much more we bought than we sold), but the balance on services is positive, it amounted to + $3.3 billion (for this amount we sold more than we bought).

«To shoot yourself in both legs». Where can threats of blocking oil and gas lead to

It turns out that our export miracle owes much to its good dynamics and such a positive result to the services. Let’s see, what do we trade so profitably with the foreign market?

Earlier, it was a beautiful triad consisting of transportation, construction and IT services, but today the construction sector has decreased substantially. Only two big elements came to the fore: transport and IT services.

The threats Minsk is now making to Europe, saying that we will block the transit and leave you without gas, resemble the threats of a person trying to frighten others by the fact that he will shoot both his knees. As fast as you do this, the «economic miracle» will cease to exist in a second.

The migration crisis, the increase in taxes in the IT sphere, distrust of the authorities, deteriorating foreign policy relations — all this hits primarily the two drivers listed above, which ensure a positive foreign trade balance. These same areas are the most promising points of the economy growth now. But they show impressive results more and more not «thanks to», but rather «in spite of» the prevailing conditions.

Hopes for Russia’s help, «if anything happens», are completely groundless. In case of border closures and increased sanctions, a significant part of our services market will simply collapse. Exporting to Russia those IT services that we sent to Europe and the United States won’t work. In addition, having lost the status of a transit country, we will lose billions of dollars. Russia will also have significant losses: transit to Europe through our country is the shortest way.

Our Chinese partners will also be in an unpleasant situation. They are already not happy about how the ambitious project Great Stone Industrial Park is stalling, and if one of the threads of the Silk Road breaks… Chinese partners may have many questions to the government of Belarus.

And here we are only talking about services. It’s clear that everything will be very sad with the export of goods too. We won’t be able to replace the European market with the Russian one. This is much more difficult than redirecting Belavia’s planes from Paris to Cherepovets.

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