According to the data of the National Bank, the balance of foreign trade over April 2017 amounted to minus USD 90.1 million, which is the worst result in 2017. Nevertheless, the balance of foreign trade on an accrual basis since the year beginning remained positive and totaled USD 120.5 million.
The foreign trade structure did not change. The negative balance of trade in goods (minus USD 894.5 million over January-April) is offset by the positive balance of trade in services (USD 1,015.0 million over the same period).
In January last year, the balance of foreign trade was positive; however, it gradually worsened for the next several months. It is multidirectional in 2017. The negative balance dynamics in April are due to the worsening of the balance of trade in goods (minus USD 200 million as compared to March) when the balance of services in April worsened by USD 40 million.
The worsening of the balance of trade in goods is explained by the decreased exports of products of the woodworking industry primarily to the Russian market (the period of successful foreign trade environment began to expire in April) and by the increased imports from Russia at the expense of the growth in oil supplies when the oil and gas conflict was settled. As a result, the foreign trade balance of trade with Russia in April this year worsened by more than USD 200 million as compared to April 2016 that was three-quarters of the total worsening of foreign trade.
There were no significant changes in the other groups of countries. For example, the decrease in exports in the trade with the EU countries, which are the second important trade partner of Belarus, was almost fully compensated by the decrease in imports with the slight worsening for Belarus. The balance of trade with the other countries hardly changed.
The trade in services grew thanks to the tariffs for the Russian oil transit through the territory of Belarus increased since February 2017 and to the strengthened RUB/USD exchange rate (April 2017 as compared to April last year). The balance improved from USD 185.0 million in April 2016 to USD 247.7 million in April this year.
The determining factors in 2017 will be the change in world oil prices, increase in exports of the Belarusian oil products to the EU, and the situation with the supplies of the Belarusian products to the Russian market. Taking into account that the period of successful market environment expires, the sanction conflicts between the Belarusian manufacturers and the Russian supervisory bodies will move to the forefront again.