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- GDP (PPP):
- $141.8 billion
- 5.3% growth
- 6.4% 5-year compound annual growth
- $15,028 per capita
- Inflation (CPI):
- FDI Inflow:
Belarus’s economic freedom score is 48, making its economy the 154th freest in the 2013 Index. Its overall score is 1 point worse than last year due to a significant decline in monetary freedom that outweighs gains from improved business freedom and reduced government spending. Belarus is ranked 42nd among the 43 countries in the Europe region.
Belarus is one of only two European economies to earn the designation “repressed.” Pervasive state controls persist in many economic areas, and widespread state investment and redistribution activities have stifled progress in the development of a modern diversified economy. Overall progress in business reform has been uneven, and the small private sector remains marginalized. Policy reform is urgently needed to open markets and improve productivity. The state has reintroduced price-control measures and installed export controls.
With poor protection of property rights and high levels of corruption, Belarus lacks the foundations on which to build functioning markets. Dictatorial governance, an ineffective judiciary, and time-consuming bureaucracy leave prospective entrepreneurs with little hope of success.
Belarus is commonly referred to as Europe’s last dictatorship. President Alexander Lukashenko, elected in 1994, continues to dominate all branches of government. The U.N. Human Rights Council has decided to appoint a human rights investigator for Belarus, and the European Union threatened sanctions following abuses of opposition figures after presidential elections in December 2010. Belarus’s industry and state-controlled agriculture sectors are not competitive. Russia maintains huge political influence in many aspects of the government and economy, and a significant percentage of Russian oil and gas exports passes through the country. Efforts continue to promote greater economic union with Russia and Kazakhstan through a customs union and a “common economic space.” Growing ties with Iran, Venezuela, and China have not improved the prospects for economic freedom.
Since his election in 1994, President Lukashenko has consolidated power steadily through authoritarian means, destroying checks and balances and dominating all branches of government. Soviet-era state ownership of land and government-controlled collective farms continues. The state is involved in many commercial transactions. Corruption is pervasive in both the private and public sectors, from the executive and judiciary to the police.
The income tax rate is a flat 12 percent. The top corporate tax rate remains 18 percent. Other taxes include excise taxes and a value-added tax (VAT). The overall tax burden amounts to 25.6 percent of total domestic income. Government spending has fallen slightly to 43.4 percent of total domestic output, with public debt hovering around 50 percent of GDP. The state remains highly dependent on external financing and subsidized energy.
Simplifying registration formalities and abolishing the minimum capital requirement have facilitated business formation, but the overall entrepreneurial environment remains hampered by state interference and public-sector domination of the labor market. The government subsidizes many basic goods and controls wages. The increased cost of Russian energy inputs and an overvalued Belarusian ruble have caused high inflation.
The country’s average tariff is low, but quotas, licensing requirements, and non-transparent and arbitrary regulations add to the cost of trade. Investment and financial activity are severely limited by extensive government controls. Limited reform of the state-owned financial sector has begun. In mid 2011, the central bank ended its direct lending operations to banks.