Prime Minister Raman Halouchanka says that the West sends many signals about its willingness to cooperate with Belarus. At the same time, new sanctions against Belarus for complicity in the Russian aggression came into force on June 4. And exports to Europe almost halved.
Now it is impossible to sell timber, iron, steel, rubber, cement and potash products to the EU. It is forbidden to supply goods and technologies to Belarus, which may contribute to the development of the defense industry. Provision of technical and financial assistance to Belarus and brokerage services is now forbidden.
Euroradio learned what was happening with commodity trade in the first month of the new sanctions and tried to find signals from the West.
Trade is saved by Russia and... the United Arab Emirates
According to Belstat, in the first six months of 2022, export volumes fell by 3.7% compared to the first half of 2021, and imports fell by 8.9%. However, there was recently an increase. In June, Belarusian exports totaled $3.16 billion, up 14% from May. Imports rose 3% to $2.79 billion.
The situation has nothing to do with the "signals" from the West. Russia helps to keep trade going. In June, Belarus exported over $2 billion worth of goods against $1.65 billion in May. Russia's share in June exports reached 63.3%. The situation with imports is more modest, but Russia's contribution is still very large. In June, imports from there rose to $1.85 billion - 66.3% of all imports. In May, it was $1.78 billion.
Before the war, Ukraine was the second largest trading partner. Now exports there are also growing, but the volumes are minuscule. In June, goods worth $31.5 million were sent there; in May, the figure was $23 million. In January, export figures were $563 million. It's not much, but somehow Belarus buys something in Ukraine. For example, in June, it bought $1.5 million worth of goods.
Now China is in second place with $203 million worth of goods sent there in June. The authorities have managed to increase deliveries by $76 million within a month. Imports from China, on the other hand, have gone down slightly. In June, Belarus bought there $257 million worth of goods, which is $2 million less than in May.
Unexpectedly, the United Arab Emirates became the third largest buyer of Belarusian goods. Back in January, exports there totaled only $2.6 million -- virtually nothing in the total volume. However, in June, Belarus already delivered $168 million worth of goods to the UAE.
It is unclear what exactly Belarus has suddenly started to supply to the UAE as Belstat has hidden data. Last year, lubricant oil additives, nylon filaments, acrylic fibers and strings, cellulose and food were sold there most. In all, $58 million was traded during all of 2021, three times less than in June 2022.
Europe reduces purchases, but sells more to Belarus
Despite a significant increase in trade overall, exports to Europe almost halved - from $450 million in May to $244 million in June. The most significant partners in Europe have been reducing purchases since the start of the war in Ukraine. The Netherlands is the biggest. Whereas in January it was worth $246 million, in June it was only $19 million. Belarus earned a lot by sending oil products to the Netherlands, which were then sold all over the world.
Imports from Europe increased: from $322 million in May to $337 million in June. But not only the European market is important for Belarus but also the purchases there. After all, to produce goods for sale even in Russia, you need high-quality intermediate components that Belarus cannot make itself. What problems can arise without these components can be seen in the production of MAZs, which have repeatedly caught fire in Russia. There, European parts were replaced by "similar" domestic ones.
If we go back to the signals that Raman Halouchanka receives, unfortunately, we cannot verify their content and sources. Judging by the statistics, Europe signals that it will still continue to trade with Belarus, where possible, but sanctions for the behavior of the Lukashenka regime will be executed.