That dollar amount reflects a 5.6% increase since 2016 but a -24.6% drop from 2019 to 2020.
The 5 biggest exports from Belarus are potassic fertilizers, processed petroleum oils, cheese and curd, sawn wood and tractors. Combined, they account for almost one-quarter (23.9%) of the total estimated value of international Belarusian shipments in 2020.
The latest available country-specific data for 2019 shows that 82.6% of products exported from Belarus were bought by importers in: Russia (41.3% of the global total), Ukraine (12.6%), United Kingdom (7%), Germany (3.9%), Poland (3.9%), Lithuania (3.2%), Netherlands (2.4%), Kazakhstan (2.2%), China (1.9%), Brazil (1.8%), India (1.2%) and Latvia (1.1%).
From a continental perspective, 84.4% of Belarus’s exports by value were delivered to European countries while 11.2% were sold to importers in Asia.
Belarus shipped another 2.4% worth of goods to Latin America excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean. Even smaller percentages went to Africa (1.1%), North America (0.7%) and Oceania led by New Zealand and Australia (0.2%).
Given the Belarusian population of 9.5 million people, its total $21.7 billion in 2020 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 2020 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$2.5 billion (10.1% of total exports)
- Mineral fuels including oil: $2.4 billion (9.6%)
- Dairy, eggs, honey: $2.3 billion (9.4%)
- Vehicles: $1.9 billion (7.5%)
- Wood: $1.6 billion (6.5%)
- Machinery including computers: $1.4 billion (5.5%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: $1 billion (4.2%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: $993.9 million (4%)
- Iron, steel: $863 million (3.5%)
- Meat: $785.4 million (3.2%)
The top 10 exports from Belarus approach two-thirds (63.4%) of the overall value of its global shipments.
Wood (up 15%) and meat (up 0.2%) were the only top export categories from Belarus to grow from 2019 to 2020.
The leading decliner among Belarus’s top 10 export categories was mineral fuels including oil, thanks to its -65% drop year over year.
Drilling down to the more granular 4-digit HTS codes, the most valuable Belarusian exported good was potassic fertilizers (7.9% of total exports by value), processed petroleum oils (7.3%), cheese and curd (4.2%), sawn wood (2.4%), tractors (2.1%), trucks (1.9%), miscellaneous furniture (also 1.9%), concentrated or sweetened milk and cream (1.6%), butter and other fats and oils derived from milk (1.5%), and iron or non-alloy steel bars and rods (1.4%).
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 -24.1% since 2019)
- Dairy, eggs, honey: $2.3 billion (Down by -1.6%)
- Wood: $1.5 billion (Up by 18.1%)
- Meat: $662.7 million (Up by 3.2%)
- Furniture, bedding, lighting, signs, prefabricated buildings: $436.9 million (Up by 32.1%)
- Meat/seafood preparations: $337.9 million (Up by 18.1%)
- Vehicles : $298.8 million (Up by 101.6%)
- Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: $209.3 million (Up by 53.3%)
- Woodpulp: $113.2 million (Up by 184.4%)
- Vegetables: $92 million (Down by -19.4%)
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 -$4.6 billion trade deficit during 2020, down by -29.5% from -$6.5 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.
- Machinery including computers: US-$1.7 billion (Down by -33.4% since 2019)
- Mineral fuels including oil: -$1.7 billion (Down by -44.2%)
- Gems, precious metals: -$1.1 billion (No 2019 data)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$841 million (Down by -50.7%)
- Iron, steel: -$464.9 million (Down by -29.5%)
- Pharmaceuticals: -$426.1 million (Down by -24.9%)
- Oil seeds: -$366.9 million (Up by 0.1%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: -$348.9 million (Down by -43.6%)
- Paper, paper items: -$271.6 million (Down by -16.8%)
- 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 12.9% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2020 ($192.6 billion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 12.9% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2020 compares to 11.1% for 2019. Those metrics suggest a relatively increasing 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 forecast to be 0.6% for 2021 up from an average 0.2% one year earlier, according to Trading Economics.
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 6, 2021
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on June 6, 2021
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on June 6, 2021
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on June 6, 2021
Wikipedia, Belarus. Accessed on June 6, 2021
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on June 6, 2021
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Belarus. Accessed on June 6, 2021
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on June 6, 2021