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Belarus’ Crucial Role for Russia: Dairy Farm

With Belarus facing possible sanctions for helping Russia invade Ukraine, it’s worth taking a look at the country’s trade profile.

Belarus has a gross domestic product of $62.5 billion, around one-tenth the size of its neighbor Poland.

It mainly trades regionally, except for buying consumer products from China, and its small economy means sanctions won’t roil commodity markets in the way that action against fuel-rich Russia will, but the country of 9.4 million does play one crucial role in global trade: 8% of all of Belarus’ exports is cheese, milk and other dairy producs to Russia.

Belarus exported $2.2 billion in dairy products to Russia, up 8.9%, in 2021. That accounted for roughly 75% of Russia’s dairy imports. Argentina and New Zealand were second and third.

Overall, in 2021, Belarus exported $28.3 billion, up 4%, and imported $31.2 billion, down 0.2%, for a slight trade deficit. Most of Belarus’ trade was with geographical neighbors, especially Russia.

Russia bought roughly half of all of Belarus’s exports, $14.4 billion, up 13.6%, followed by Ukraine ($2.5 billion, down 20.1%), Poland ($1.8 billion, up 51.1%), Lithuania ($1.3 billion, up 23.1%), and Germany ($1.1 billion, up 23.9%).

Belarus’ main exports to Ukraine were mineral fuels, wood, plastics, cars and trucks, machinery, and fertilizers.

Belarus also shipped $1.2 billion worth of cars and trucks, up 23.9%, to Russia in 2021, as well as $821.2 million of plastics, up 15.5%, and $525 million of meat, down 1.2%.

Russia, the world’s 12th biggest exporter by value, was also the source of around half of Belarus’ imports in 2021.

Belarus’ top sources of imports in 2021 were Russia ($16.1 billion, up 0.4%), China ($3.4 billion, down 3.2%), Germany ($1.6 billion, down 5.7%), Ukraine ($1.5 billion, up 5.1%), and Poland ($1.1 billion, down 10.9%).

Belarus top imports from Russia in 2021 were mineral fuels ($3.8 billion, down 38%), iron and steel ($2 billion, up 67.7%), plastics ($1 billion, up 32.4%), and electronics ($1 billion, up 17.7%).

Its top imports from Ukraine were iron and steel, animal feed, and soybeans.

Belarus imported $1.2 billion, down 11.6%, of cars and trucks, mostly from Russia and China. Car powers Germany and U.S. were third and fourth.