GDP, current US$ billion
GDP per capita, current US$
Life Expectancy at Birth, years
Belarus has pursued a gradual transition path, characterized by limited structural reforms and a modest expansion of the private sector. Policies have focused on upgrading state-owned enterprises (SOEs) with the help of subsidies and preferential loans through state-owned banks.
Economic growth has been accompanied by an impressive fall in the number of households below the poverty line and an increase in household income among the bottom 40%. The proceeds from that growth have been redistributed through real wage growth, utility subsidies, and the maintenance of employment in SOEs and the public sector.
Unfortunately, the factors that enabled Belarus’s past success are no longer in play. The capacity of capital accumulation to drive economic growth is exhausted, the energy subsidies stemming from bilateral agreements with Russia are smaller, and public debt ratios to GDP are growing. It is increasingly difficult to cover the savings-investment gap by foreign borrowing. Henceforth, improved living standards must come from higher productivity.
Without structural change, growth over the medium term will not be higher than around 2–2.5% per year. A sustainable improvement in living standards will therefore require an economic, social, and institutional transformation, with an enhanced role for private enterprise, a more efficient SOE sector, and strengthened safety nets. Key pathways include (i) unleashing market forces, (ii) safeguarding social inclusion, and (iii) upgrading institutional frameworks to make the business environment more dynamic and facilitate logistics and trade.