Belarus's economy will suffer significant losses.
The new sanctions imposed by the EU and the US on Moscow are coming into effect. The blacklist, which was recently extended by Brussels, comes into force today. It includes 23 companies in the banking, production and service sectors and 95 names of Russian officials and Ukrainian separatists involved in stirring up the conflict in the Donbas region. The US, Canada and Japan also imposed restrictions on Russian officials and entities. Though the sanctions target Russia, Belarusians also think about them, Belsat TV reports.
“Our trade turnover with Russia is rather high, I suppose. Right? Perhaps, it will change. It's most likely to fall. I think this is not profitable for us,” a resident of Minsk says.
“If Russia has problems with its economy due to sanctions, it will be bad for us too,” another Minsk resident agrees.
Experts confirm the concerns of ordinary Belarusians. They turn attention to the fact that Russia is the main sponsor of Belarusian economy and Belarus's main sales market.
“If the burden of the Russian budget will increase, which means 100 billion dollars of losses a year, a part of the losses will be shifted onto Belarus as unreceived loans and a drop in sales of Belarusian goods,” economist Aliaksandr Siankevich says.
Belarus has the highest turnover with its eastern neighbour. Besides trade, Belarus is building a large-scale integration project with Russia. So, sanctions against Moscow may turn out to be sanctions against Minsk.
“Half of our experts goes not only to Russia, but also to the West. It is definitely good. The sanctions do not hit us here. Russian market remains open for us. But we may lose the EU market later. It may be worse for us,” economist Mikhail Zaleski thinks.
Sanctions against the Kremlin already affect some Belarusian tour operators and their clients. In particular, international money transfers via banks with Russian capital are blocked. It may be only the beginning.
“Consequences of sanctions for Belarus's economy will grow. We won't feel them much this year, but they'll become painful for our economy in a year or two,” Aliaksandr Siankevich notes.
Russia's economy has a negative outlook. Economists advise to be ready for the Russian ruble fall, a decline in economic growth and a drop in living standards. Belarusians should remember that our country is strongly dependent on its main partner in the Customs Union.