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The economic sanctions the United States imposed against Belarus on Wednesday will not affect the Belarussian economy in the short term
The economic sanctions the United States imposed against Belarus on Wednesday will not affect the Belarussian economy in the short term, according to Belarussian government officials and experts. "We do not fear the US sanctions. The US accounts for about 3% of exports. In any event, given the open market with Russia, Ukraine and the Commonwealth as a whole, the US sanctions will not make a dramatic effect on our economy," said Andrei Tur, Belarus' Deputy Economics Minister. According to the law President George W. Bush signed on Wednesday, the US federal agencies are halting any financial assistance to the Belarussian government except for humanitarian aid. Eximbank, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation Abroad (OPIC), the US Trade and Development Agency were disallowed to issue loans to or secure loans for Minsk. American officials at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank will seek to have similar decisions with respect to Belarus adopted by these organizations. "The sanctions will not produce an immediate effect. However, Washington that holds the controlling share block in the IMF and the WB is likely to secure these influential organizations' relevant support," said Valery Dashkevich, an economist at the Independent Institute of Socio-economic and Political Studies. In that event, Minsk that is not implementing financial programs in cooperation with the IMF may lose International Bank for Reconstruction and Development investors whom the said organizations will dissuade from cooperating with Belarus. Konstantin Kosachev believes the sanctions will not hamper the development of relations between Russia and Belarus. "We will continue cooperation with the country. We do not believe political developments in Belarus are smooth, or the election campaign was ideal. We are not very happy about the way the vote was arranged in Belarus either. However, we believe we should help our Belarussian friends build a real democratic system through dialogue, rather than sanctions," said Mr. Kosachev. In his words, assessment of elections by different countries is becoming more and more a political instrument. "Elections that are advantageous to this or that country are declared democratic automatically, and it is vice versa if the country does not like the elections," said Mr. Kosachev. The current volume of net direct investments stands at zero, i.e. capital inflow is equal to capital flight, according to Belarussian experts. "Belarus is employing the mobilizing economic model based on Soviet-time enterprises. It can demonstrate growth indefinitely," said Mr. Dashkevich. Minsk fears that the sanctions imposed by the U.S., President Alexander Lukashenko's fiercest critic, can be supported by the European Union that accounts for close to 25% of Belarussian exports. Indeed, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe has qualified the elections and the referendum in Belarus as undemocratic. "I believe, given competition among different powers in the EU, the United States will not force the EU to follow its lead with respect to Belarus... Even if Europe approves the sanctions, Belarus will have to halt up to 20% of its exports," said Mr. Tur. Belarus is holding talks on quotas on textiles and potassic fertilizer exports to Europe. "The Belarussian economy will not collapse, but these measures will lie on the US' conscience. The sanctions are the measures aimed against the Belarussian nation as a whole," said Mikhail Myasnikov, head of the National Academy of Sciences.
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