Bound by a strong historical connect
• Ranked 49th among 190 economies in the ease of doing business, according to the latest World Bank annual ratings, Belarus ranks among the high income economies of the world.
• In 2018, Belarus exported goods amounting US$ 297.1 million to India. Some of the top commodities that it exported to India include fertilisers, organic chemicals, machinery, etc..
• In 2018, Belarus imported goods worth US$ 155.5 million from India. These include pharmaceutical products, fish & crustaceans, organic chemicals, footwear, etc.
• To address its trade deficit with Belarus, India should look to enhance its exports of high potential products like medicaments, other organic chemicals, rice, insecticides, motor vehicles, footwear, cashew nuts & bovine cuts.
Formerly known as Belorussia or White Russia, Belarus is a small landlocked country situated in Eastern Europe. Enveloped by Lithuania and Latvia to the northwest, Russia to the north and east, Ukraine to the south, and Poland to the west, Belarus is a beautiful country nestled in the cradle of nature. Flat lowlands separated by low level-topped hills and uplands, coupled with ridges of glacial morainic material, accentuate the region’s beauty.
Ranked 49th among 190 economies on Ease of Doing Business, according to the latest World Bank annual ratings, Belarus ranks among the high income economies of the world. In 2018, Belarus had a GDP of US$ 59.7 billion & GDP per capita of US$ 6,230. This has been the result of a series of policies initiated by its government to stimulate economic growth and a modest expansion of the private sector. However, like the rest of the word, in 2019, the Belarusian economy, too, was caught in global headwinds. According to a recent analysis by the World Bank, Belarus’ economic growth slowed sharply in 2019, as exports fell and sectoral recovery dissipated. Thus, in the first three quarters of 2019, economic growth slowed down considerably to just 1% year-on-year from 3.7% in January–September 2018. The growth outlook in 2019 and in the medium term remains weak, according to the ban.
Belarus’ performance on Ease of
Doing Business indicators:
|Starting a business||30|
|Dealing with construction permits||48|
|Protecting minority investors||79|
|Trading across borders||24|
Source: Doing Business 2020, World Bank Group
Trade & commercial ties with India:
Some of the top commodities that Belarus exports to the world, according to ITC Trade Map, include potassium chloride for use as fertilizer, dumpers, tractors, diesel powered trucks and cheese. Major markets to which Belarus exports its products include Russian Federation, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Germany, Netherlands, Poland, Lithuania, Kazakhstan, Brazil, China, Latvia & India.
India & Belarus are similar in one critical aspect of their respective histories. The year 1991 was a major milestone for both these countries. While the former took its baby steps towards growth by leaving its doors ajar to the other economies of the world, the latter became a sovereign entity, breaking free from the Slavic republics. The fact that India was one of the first countries to recognize Belarus as independent country in 1991 served as a stepping stone in cementing their bilateral ties.
(Left to right) Kapil Gupta, Jt DG, TPCI; Mohit Singla, Chairman, TPCI; H.E. Andrei Rzheussky, Ambassador of the Republic of Belarus to India and Suresh Kumar Makhijani, Joint Director General, TPCI
This robust bonhomie between the two countries is even evident in their commercial ties. In 2018, Belarus exported goods amounting US$ 297.1 million to India. Some of the top commodities that it exported to India include fertilisers, organic chemicals, man-made staple fibres, man-made filaments, raw hides & skins, plastic articles, inorganic chemicals, electrical machinery and equipment, paper and machinery.
|Product Code||Product Label||Belarus’ exports to India in 2018 (US$ mn)|
|’55||Man-made staple fibres||10.8|
|’54||Man-made filaments; strip and the like of man-made textile materials||6.5|
|’41||Raw hides and skins (other than furskins) and leather||5.1|
|’39||Plastics and articles thereof||4.2|
|’28||Inorganic chemicals; organic or inorganic compounds of precious metals, of rare-earth metals, …||3.2|
|’85||Electrical machinery and equipment and parts thereof; sound recorders and reproducers, television …||1.8|
|’48||Paper and paperboard; articles of paper pulp, of paper or of paperboard||1.3|
|’84||Machinery, mechanical appliances, nuclear reactors, boilers; parts thereof||0.9|
Source: ITC Trade Map
In 2018, Belarus imported goods worth US$ 155.5 million from India. Pharmaceutical products, fish & crustaceans, organic chemicals, machinery, mechanical appliances, footwear, edible preparations, tanning or dyeing extracts, rubber articles, iron products & chemicals are some of the major commodities that Belarus imports from India. It is also interesting to note that some of the commodities exported by India account for a significant share of Belarus’ imports from the world: iron & steel, pharmaceuticals, organic chemicals & rubber articles.
|Product Code||Product Label||Belarus’s imports from India in 2018 (US$ mn)|
|’03||Fish and crustaceans, molluscs and other aquatic invertebrates||21.7|
|’84||Machinery, mechanical appliances, nuclear reactors, boilers; parts thereof||7.1|
|’64||Footwear, gaiters and the like; parts of such articles||4.4|
|’21||Miscellaneous edible preparations||4.1|
|’32||Tanning or dyeing extracts; tannins and their derivatives; dyes, pigments and other colouring …||3.8|
|’40||Rubber and articles thereof||3.4|
|’38||Miscellaneous chemical products||3.4|
|’73||Articles of iron or steel||3|
Source: ITC Trade Map
It is quite lucid that the scales of this trade balance weigh in favour of Belarus. However, the potential for increased economic cooperation with Belarus is considerable and needs to be explored, identified and exploited. As H.E. Mr. Andrei Rzheussky, Ambassador, Embassy of the Republic of Belarus opined during his recent visit to IndusFood 2020, India’s largest F&B trade fair organised by TPCI with the Department of Commerce, Government of India:
“The trade & economic relation between Belarus & India are quite good at this moment. We almost reached half a billion turnover & approximately 70-75% of this turnover is our exports. Every year, we are trying to increase our turnover & exports as well as our imports from India. Events like IndusFood are a good opportunity for our buyers to see what India produces and probably to buy from India. ”
If India truly aims to reverse its trade balance with Belarus, it should look for ways to enhance exports of some of the top commodities that have untapped export potential – medicaments, other organic chemicals, rice, insecticides, motor vehicles, footwear, cashew nuts & bovine cuts. By doing so, India can explore its untapped export potential of US$ 174.7 million. The two countries can also expand their links in a range of services such as IT, healthcare, financial services, transport and logistics.
Another area where India can unlock its trade potential with Belarus is leveraging the Belarusian industrial and technological strength in manufacturing giant tyres, agro-industrial machinery, mining equipment, and heavy-duty road construction machinery. The two nations should also intensify cooperation in quality control, quarantine, certification of goods and standardization as well as simplification of customs formalities.