The war in Ukraine sharply undermined Belarus' trade with the outside world. Even exports to Russia fell in March, despite assurances from officials that commodity flows were being successfully redirected.
Euroradio has found out more about Belarusian trade in the month when the war in Ukraine was in full swing, as well as what Belarus sold Ukraine.
Ukraine and the Netherlands left the top trade partners
In March, exports and imports of goods decreased drastically compared to February 2022. While exports had been falling since the beginning of the year, imports were on the rise in February. Exports in March amounted to $2.4 billion. They decreased by $0.59 billion, or almost 20%, compared with February.
Belarus imported more than it sold abroad. However, the decline here was stronger. All in all, $2.53 billion worth of goods were bought. This is $0.88 billion or 25.7% less than in February.
In March, Russia, Poland, Lithuania, China, the "unknown country", Germany and Kazakhstan were among the top 7 export markets.
In February, the list looked differently: Russia, Ukraine, the Netherlands, Poland, "unknown country", Lithuania and China.
Belarus purchased the most in March from Russia, China, Germany, the "unknown country", Poland, Italy and France.
Russia, China, Germany, Ukraine, "unknown country", Poland and Turkey were the top suppliers in February.
Exports to Ukraine have decreased 41 times
Trade with Ukraine simply collapsed in March but did not stop completely.
Belarus used to export $10 million worth of oil products there. This is 41 times less than in February. It turns out that Belarus lost about $0.4 billion of exports in March just at the expense of Ukraine.
Of what else was sold there, it was mostly food products. However, $3 million was closed exports. Usually, the closed exports to Ukraine were fuel.
Imports from Ukraine shrank 25-fold to $4.4 million. Belarus also bought food, radiators, ores and iron concentrates.
The Ukrainian market, which used to be the second largest for Belarus, virtually collapsed. What did Belarus sell to those who stayed behind?
Russia accounted for 52.7% of all March exports. This is $1.27 billion. As compared to February, March supplies were $128 million less.
Dairy products and transportation were the biggest contributors. But it is impossible to see the data on all the goods. One-sixth of the deliveries are classified.
Before the sanctions were imposed and statistics on energy and then fertilizers were hidden, only a few percent of the total volume of goods were shipped to Russia in classified items. These could be weapons, tobacco, or precious metals. Now any of the closed items could have been supplied for $200 million.
The second-largest buyer was Poland. Poland accounted for 8.7% of exports worth $208 million. The biggest volumes were railroad cars, rapeseed oil, wood boards and furniture.
There were also closed shipments for $32 million. Although the rhetoric of the authorities didn't focus on redirecting exports to Poland, they grew by $42 million compared to February.
It's not clear what country it is. Apparently, not a CIS country, because Belstat has a separate column "unknown CIS country".
Belarus sent $64 million worth of goods to Germany in March (2.7% of all exports). Electricity conductors, timber and wood products among others.
Virtually all exports are in open items. By February, the supplies increased by $2 million. Before the sanctions against Belneftekhim, Germany was the only buyer of Belarusian oil. Now, according to Belstat, there are no more such supplies.
In March, goods for nearly $63 million (2.6%) were sold to Kazakhstan. Dairy and meat products and wooden furniture were supplied in the biggest amounts. Volumes have not changed significantly since February, but Belstat closed the goods for $7 million.