Belarus: GDP contraction eases in Q3
A preliminary estimate revealed the economy shrank 1.3% in the first three quarters of the year, easing from H1’s 1.8% decrease.
The slight improvement came on higher agricultural production, which was up 5.5% (H1: +3.9%) and a smaller decrease in the manufacturing sector (Q1–Q3: -1.4%; H1: -3.2%), likely thanks to a pickup in external demand. However, this was likely countered somewhat by widespread protests dragging on domestic activity, while the mining sector remained in contractionary territory, falling by 1.8% in January–September (H1 2020: -1.7%). Moreover, the construction sector lost steam, easing from 6.0% growth in annual terms in the first half of the year to only 4.0% in Q1–Q3.
Looking ahead, the economy should recover somewhat but remain fragile, weighed on by protests and political instability. As Chris Portman, senior economist at Oxford Economics, stated: “Post-election disruption, worsened by ongoing strains from the coronavirus pandemic, is holding back the private sector expansion needed to avoid a jump in unemployment as public sector inefficiencies are belatedly tackled. Downside risks are also kept high in 2020-22 by likely public reaction against any Moscow-backed leadership change that lets Russia acquire more assets, and emigration of skilled younger workers in response to recession and clampdown if protestors’ demands are not met.”