Europe’s largest landlocked country, the Republic of Belarus shipped an estimated US$21.7 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2019. That dollar amount reflects an -18.7% decline since 2015 and a -35.8% drop from 2018 to 2019.
The latest available country-specific data from 2018 shows that 83% of products exported from Belarus were bought by importers in: Russia (38.2% of the global total), Ukraine (12%), United Kingdom (9.1%), Germany (4.3%), Netherlands (4.2%), Poland (4%), Lithuania (3.4%), Kazakhstan (2.3%), Brazil (1.7%), China (1.4%), Latvia (also 1.4%) and India (0.9%).
From a continental perspective, 82% of Belarusian exports by value were delivered to fellow European countries while 10.3% were sold to Asian importers. Belarus shipped 2.5% worth of its total exports to Latin America excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean. Even smaller percentages went to importers in other continents (Africa, North America, Oceania).
Given the Belarusian population of 9.5 million people, its total $21.7 billion in 2019 exports translates to roughly $2,300 for every resident in the Eastern European country.
Belarus Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Belarusian global shipments during 2019 at the 2-digit Harmonized Tariff System (HTS) code level. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Belarus.
- Fertilizers: US$2.4 billion (11.3% of total exports)
- Dairy, eggs, honey: $2.2 billion (10.3%)
- Vehicles: $1.9 billion (8.8%)
- Wood: $1.3 billion (6%)
- Machinery including computers: $1.2 billion (5.6%)
- Mineral fuels including oil: $1.1 billion (4.9%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: $930.5 million (4.3%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: $929.4 million (4.3%)
- Articles of iron or steel: $818.1 million (3.8%)
- Iron, steel: $789.8 million (3.6%)
The top 10 exports from Belarus approach two-thirds (62.9%) of the overall value of its global shipments.
Dairy, eggs and honey represents the lone grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 9.2% from 2018 to 2019.
The leading decliner among Belarus’ top 10 export categories was mineral fuels including oil thanks to a -87.5% drop year over year, weighed down by plummeting international sales of refined petroleum oils.
Drilling down to the more granular 4-digit HTS codes, the most valuable Belarusian exported good were potassic fertilizers (9.9% of total). In second place was cheese including curd (4.4%), trucks (3.7%), refined petroleum oils (3.5%), sawn wood (also 2.2%), tractors (2%) then miscellaneous furniture (1.9%).
The following types of Belarusian product shipments represent positive net exports or a trade balance surplus. Investopedia defines net exports as the value of a country’s total exports minus the value of its total imports.
In a nutshell, net exports represent the amount by which foreign spending on a home country’s goods or services exceeds or lags the home country’s spending on foreign goods or services.
- Fertilizers: US$2.4 billion (Down by -24.6% since 2018)
- Dairy, eggs, honey: $2.2 billion (Up by 9.3%)
- Wood: $1.2 billion (Down by -6.2%)
- Meat: $629.1 million (Down by -10.1%)
- Furniture, bedding, lighting, signs, prefabricated buildings: $404.6 million (Up by 34.2%)
- Meat/seafood preparations: $296.6 million (Down by -2%)
- Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: $204.5 million (Up by 538.9%)
- Vegetables: $81.5 million (Reversing a -$1.1 million deficit)
- Manmade staple fibers: $78.6 million (Down by -3.5%)
- Paper yarn, woven fabric: $62.7 million (Up by 5.9%)
Belarus has highly positive net exports in the international trade of fertilizers. In turn, these cashflows indicate Belarus’s strong competitive advantages under the fertilizers product category.
Overall Belarus incurred an estimated -$10 billion trade deficit during 2019, up by 113.1% from -$4.7 billion one year earlier.
Below are exports from Belarus that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country Belarus goods trail Belarusian importer spending on foreign products.
- Mineral fuels including oil: -US$6 billion (Up by 129% since 2018)
- Machinery including computers: -$2 billion (Down by -13.9%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$1.1 billion (Down by -25.4%)
- Iron, steel: -$639.5 million (Down by -10.4%)
- Pharmaceuticals: -$412.9 million (Down by -15.8%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: -$380.4 million (Down by -37.3%)
- Organic chemicals: -$309.7 million (Down by -9.7%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: -$291.9 million (Down by -10%)
- Paper, paper items: -$249.5 million (Down by -21.6%)
- Aircraft, spacecraft: -$242.9 million (No 2018 data)
Belarus has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits under the mineral fuels-related products category, notably for crude oil, coal and petroleum gases.
These cashflow deficiencies clearly indicate Belarusian competitive disadvantages in the international energy market, but also represent key opportunities for Belarus to improve its position in the global economy through focused innovations.
Belarusian Export Companies
Given that Belarus is an emerging economy, it should come as no surprise that no Belarusian corporation appears on the Forbes Global 2000.
Wikipedia does list Belarusian export companies. Selected examples are shown below.
- BelAZ (haulage, earth-moving equipment)
- Belkamunmash (electric public transport vehicles)
- Belshina (pneumatic tires)
- Beltransgaz (natural gas)
- Byelorussian Steel Works (steel)
- JSC Defense Systems (air defense manufacturer)
- Minsk Automobile Plant (automobiles)
- Minsk Motorcycle (motorcycles)
- Minsk Tractor Works (tractors)
- Olivaria (brewery)
- TransAVIAexport Airlines (cargo airline)
- Velcom (mobile phones)
In macroeconomic terms, Belarus’ total exported goods represent 11.1% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2019 ($195.6 billion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 11.1% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2019 compares to 17.7% for 2018. Those metrics suggest a relatively decreasing reliance on products sold on international markets for Belarus’ total economic performance albeit based on a short timeframe.
Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. Average unemployment in Belarus was 0.529% for 2019 up from 0.428% one year earlier, according to the International Monetary Fund.
Minsk is the capital city of Belarus.
See also European Union’s Top Trading Partners and Russia’s Top 10 Exports
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on June 19, 2020
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on June 19, 2020
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on June 19, 2020
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on June 19, 2020
Wikipedia, Belarus. Accessed on June 19, 2020
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on June 19, 2020
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Belarus. Accessed on June 19, 2020
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on June 19, 2020