According to the data of the National Statistical Committee, the balance of foreign trade in goods of Belarus in January-April 2017 grew as compared to the same period last year by 22% and equaled to minus USD 1,549.5 million. Over April 2017, the balance of foreign trade in goods totaled minus USD 529.0 million, having grown as compared to March by USD 205.3 million or 63.4%.
The negative balance of foreign trade in goods in January-April 2017 grew due to the oil price growth and the expired period of successful Russian market environment. The Russian oil price for Belarus rose from USD 186 per ton in January-April 2016 to USD 285 per ton in January-April 2017 due to the world price growth (from USD 37 per barrel in January-April 2016 to USD 54.5 in January-April 2017) and the tax maneuver in Russia. As a result, the oil import cost rose by USD 158 million or 11% in spite of the fact that the oil supplies decreased by 2.11 million tons or 27.5%.
At the same time, the exports of oil products fell by 2.57 million tons or 41.9% due to the decreased oil supplies. The cost of oil products went down by USD 46.5 million or 3%. As a result, the balance of oil import and oil product export worsened by USD 204.5 million as compared to January-April 2016.
It should be also noted that the Russian oil supplies recovered since April 2017 when the oil and gas dispute with Russia was settled. As a result, the oil imports in April increased as compared to March by USD 60 million. The imports from Russia in April grew as compared to March by USD 80 million. The period of the successful environment of foreign trade in the Russian market expired. The RUB/USD exchange rate in April 2017 hardly differs from the RUB/USD exchange rate in April 2016. As a result, the exports of goods to Russia in April decreased as compared to March by USD 61.1 million.
The structure of the foreign trade of Belarus changed due to the oil price growth. The share of Russia grew at the expense of the reduced share of the EU countries. If the share of exports to Russia (41.8%) in January-April 2016 exceeded the share of exports to the EU countries (30.6%) by11.2 percentage points, then this difference rose almost twofold in January-April 2017 and amounted to 20.1 percentage points. As for the imports, the difference between the shares of Russia and the EU countries rose from 36.9 percentage points to 39.5 percentage points. As for another group of countries, these shares did not change in spite of the turnover growth.
In spite of the small volume of own oil extraction, the trade in oil and oil products forms a basis of the foreign trade with the first five trade partners. Belarus imports oil from Russia and exports refined products to other countries (Belarus exports its own oil to Germany). In January-April 2017, the oil exports amounted to 66.2% of the structure of exports to Ukraine, 96.7% to Great Britain, 58.0% to Germany, and 67.8% to the Netherlands. As compared to the same period last year, the exports to all these countries (except for the Netherlands) grew.
In general, Belarus' turnover in January-April 2017 increased with almost all main partners. Only turnover with the Netherlands markedly decreased (2-fold) due to the redistribution of exports of oil products in favor of Great Britain. The exports of oil products to Great Britain rose twofold. The turnovers with Kazakhstan, Russia, Ukraine, China, and Turkey significantly increased. The slight decline in turnovers was observed in the trade with Italy and Lithuania.
Besides oil and oil products, there were registered the main changes in exports of the following commodity items:
- exports of meat and dairy products grew by USD 189.1 million. They were mainly exported to Russia. The exports of meat products rose in value terms by USD 22.2 million or 10.8% and decreased in physical terms by 8.7k tons or 8.7%. The exports of dairy products fell by 36.1k tons or 10.4% in physical terms but grew by BYN 166.9 million or 32.6% in value terms. As it was said, the exports growth markedly slowed down in April. Over the first three months, the exports of meat products totaled 15.8%, dairy products – 42.5%, which is significantly higher than the same indicators over 4 months.
- imports of tomatoes grew (mainly from Turkey) by USD 30.7 million or 31%.
- export structure includes bitumen mixtures, the exports of which rose by USD 137.5 million
- exports of fertilizers rose by USD 135.7 million. The exports of potash fertilizers rose by USD 155.3 million or 27.6% at the expense of the growth in physical terms by 770k tons or 1.5-fold in spite of the 19% price reduction. At the same time, the exports of nitrogen fertilizers decreased by USD 22.2 million or more than twofold in value terms and by 44k tons or more than twofold in physical terms.
- exports of lorries rose by USD 128.5 million or 46%. The exports of tractors grew by USD 44.4 million or 22%. In this regard, the imports of engine jumped by USD 33.2 million or twofold.
- imports of motor cars fell by USD 93.8 million or 3-fold.
- exports of iron grew by USD 77.8 million or 49%.
- exports of wooden furniture rose by USD 14.3 million or 40%. The exports of chipboard grew by USD 18.4 million or 68%.
- exports of plastic containers went up by USD 16.4 million or 25%.
- exports of pharmaceuticals grew by USD 19.3 million or 45%. The imports of other pharmaceuticals fell by USD 21.6 million or 21%.
- in spite of the 27% footwear price reduction, exports of footwear increased by USD 15.5 million or 33%.
Note that the exports of motor cars to Russia are closed for Belgee CJSC since the beginning of 2017 due to the insufficient production localization. The problem will be removed when a new plant near Borisov begins to work. It was planned that the plant will begin to work in June but, by all appearances, the launch date will be postponed.