Belarus Economic Outlook
Cumulative GDP data revealed that the economy started the year on the back foot: the rate of contraction accelerated from Q4’s average of 4.7% to 5.0% in January, as the downturn in industrial output intensified. More positively, retail sales shrank at a softer clip, likely due to lower inflation. In other news, in mid-February, President Lukashenko stated that Belarusian troops would only be deployed alongside the Russian army if Belarus was attacked. Meanwhile, on 24 February, the U.S. expanded its sanctions on the country, broadly aligning them with those imposed by its European allies. On 1 March, Lukashenko met with Chinese leader Xi Jinping. They reiterated the strong bond between the two countries and called for a prompt peace deal between Russia and Ukraine.
Inflation decreased to 12.0% in January from December’s 12.8%. The deceleration was driven by softer price pressures across the whole basket of goods. Going forward, our panelists project inflation to continue to decline due to price controls and lower commodity prices. However, price controls could lead to shortages and the emergence of a parallel market.