Belarus has a diversified economy with high per capita income. Most attempts at privatization were rebuffed in Belarus, a post-Soviet transition economy, in favor of maintaining strong state control over the country’s economy and politics. The Belarusian economy is highly centralized, with a focus on high levels of employment and a preponderance of the public sector.
Consider it a welfare state, if you will. Using PPP, Belarus’s GDP in 2019 was $195 billion, making it the 72nd largest economy in the world. This equates to a per capita income of $20,900.
In 2018, Belarus joined the ranks of the “very high development” states, placing 53rd on the United Nations Human Development Index out of 189 countries. Due to its advanced healthcare infrastructure, its infant mortality rate is exceptionally low at 2.9%. (compared to 6.6 in Russia or 3.7 in the United Kingdom).
The literacy rate is expected to be at least 99%, and there are 47 physicians for every 10,000 people in the country. This compares to 26.7 in Romania, 32 in Finland, and 41.9 in Sweden. It has one of Europe’s lowest Gini coefficients (a measure of inequality), per the United Nations Development Programme.
Belarus Economy In Europe 2023 [Facts & History]
Belarus was a poor and primitive country that relied mainly on agriculture and had an overpopulated rural population before the October Revolution. World War II was catastrophic for Belarus, resulting in the deaths of an estimated 25% of the population and the widespread destruction of the country’s infrastructure.
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It was after World War II that Belarus began its rapid industrialization and emergence as a major transit point for goods moving between the Soviet Union and Europe. Tractors, semis, heavy vehicles, oil processing, metal-cutting lathes, synthetic fibers, televisions, semiconductors, and microchips all become major components of its economy thanks to the country’s emphasis on manufacturing.
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In the 1980s, large companies in Belarus employed over half of the country’s industrial workforce.
It was the most technologically proficient Soviet republic and had an extremely high export rate of its products (about 80%). Belarus earned the nickname “the Soviet assembly shop” due to its role as a manufacturer of goods assembled from components imported from the Soviet Union.
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Since the fall of the Soviet Union, under Lukashenko’s leadership, Belarus has avoided the widespread privatizations experienced by other post-Soviet states and instead kept government ownership over its most important industries.
Between 1996 and 2000, particularly in 1998 and 1999 as a result of the financial and economic crisis in Russia, the country experienced severe financial hardship.
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Because of this, prices rose sharply and the national currency was devalued, trade with Russia and other CIS nations fell, arrears between businesses increased, and the country’s balance of payments worsened.
In 1998 and 1999, foreign exchange market tensions were the primary cause of economic instability. With a 294% increase in 1999, inflation hit consumers hard.
Throughout the years 2001–2005, the national economy grew consistently and robustly. The GDP increased by 7.4 percent annually on average, with a growth of 9.2 percent in 2005 being the high point. The industrial sector was primarily responsible for this expansion, growing at a rate of over 8.7 percent annually on average and reaching a peak of 10.4 percent in 2005.
The most important crops are potatoes, flax, hemp, sugar beets, rye, oats, and wheat. Animals such as beef and dairy cattle, pigs, and poultry are bred and produced there. Belarus relies heavily on Russian oil and gas imports due to its meager domestic reserves.
Tractors and trucks, earth movers for construction and mining, metal-cutting machine tools, agricultural machinery, motorbikes, chemicals, fertilizer, textiles, and consumer goods are the major products of the most prominent industrial sectors. Russia, Ukraine, Poland, and Germany are the top four trading partners.
The Gross Domestic Product of Belarus increased by 9.9 percent last year. The Gross Domestic Product increased by 8.2% in the first quarter of 2007. In 2008, GDP growth accelerated to 10%.
Nearly 80% of FDI in Belarus between 2002 and 2007 was focused on the service sector, while industrial concerns accounted for the remaining 20%. Foreign direct investment in agriculture was quite low.