Reinvigorating Pakistan-Belarus Relations: Building Blocks for Future Cooperation
Author<br><br>Khalid Taimur Akram

Author

Khalid Taimur Akram

Executive Director,
Pakistan Research Center for a Community with Shared (PRCCSF), Islamabad

“Вelarus economic development and regional connectivity: an appraisal of successful policies”

The paper focuses on the economic development of Belarus under the visionary statesman, President Aleksandr Lukashenko. Since the last decade, Belarus has emerged as a strong country while enhancing its regional and global outreach due to robust policies introduced by the government. The robust policies and structural reforms have provided a new impetus for economic cooperation and regional connectivity. The research is analytical and exploratory.

In 1991, after the disintegration of the Soviet Union Socialist Republics (USSR), Belarus emerged as a sovereign state. The country is bordered by Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Russia, and Ukraine. Since its independence, Belarus has pursued a gradual transition path characterized by effective structural reforms, robust civil administration and a modest expansion of the public-private sector.

The political economy of modern Belarus has witnessed drastic transformations. The country has embarked on a transitional path on its own and substantial progress in the market reforms. Belarus has implemented sustainable and ambitious economic reforms due to prudent policies and plans introduced by the first and only President, His Excellency Aleksandr Lukashenko. His efficacious strategies and measures have enabled Belarus to emerge as a resilient and powerful state.

Belarus has been witnessing prosperity due to the advanced expansion of public-private sectors vis-à-vis regional connectivity. The government has opened many doors for new opportunities and laid a solid foundation towards a vision for an inclusive, open, and competitive Belarus. Inclusive economic progress is the core of modern narratives and strategies. 

In this context, the Belarusian model of a socially-oriented market economy system is worth mentioning. Belarus is a highly efficient economy with well-developed private enterprise and market infrastructure, resilient government regulation, stimulating entrepreneurs to expand and improve production, and employees, working better. Moreover, the Belarusian government has been extending efforts for sustainable infrastructure planning and ecosystem while mitigating environmental threats with relevance to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs 2030).

Belarus Unique Economic Model: A Brief Prelude

Belarusian economic model is in transition, with structural features inherited from the former Soviet bloc. It has relatively low levels of poverty and inequality. Its agriculture and manufacturing industries are one of the world’s best and largest industries. As per an analysis, it accounts for 31.3% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and employs above 30% of the active population. The sector of agriculture accounts for 6.8% of the country’s GDP and 11% of the working population.

 In this aspect, nearly 60% of agricultural production is concentrated in highly subsidized state-owned cooperative farms. Moreover, it is witnessed that the economy of Belarus has been growing through the ranks of moderately free economic policies, and the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has been expanding at a healthy pace.

“Вelarus economic development and regional connectivity: an appraisal of successful policies”

The above-mentioned figures highlight a surge in Belarus economic activities and constructive engagement in different sectors. A significant shift is depicted in almost every segment. In addition to that, Belarus has been blessed with multiple natural resources. For example, wood, minerals, oil & natural gas, granite, limestone, clay, sand, peat and dolomite. Thereby, this sector also generates lucrative profits for the state

“Вelarus economic development and regional connectivity: an appraisal of successful policies”

The industry of Information Technology (IT) plays a pivotal role in the economy. During the last two decades, the IT industry has distinguished itself from other economic sectors by steadily growing revenues, exports, workforce, and other indicators. The measures taken by the government to elevate the production in the IT and services segment include the creation of Hi-Tech Parks (HTP) and a special regime for IT companies. Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) is the fastest-growing sector in the national economy in terms of both investment inflows and exports.

Belarus’s ambitious implementation of market and economic strategies has provided a great opportunity for many countries, including Pakistan, to expand its partnership with it. Having efficiency in the manufacturing market, Belarus exports tractors, tires, potash fertilizers, food products, synthetic filament tow, and other machinery and chemical products to Pakistan. The imports include rice, fruits, vegetables, leather goods, and textiles products. However, the manufacturing of tractors constitutes the lion’s share of Belarusian exports to Pakistan, i.e., 64% of total export revenues.

 In terms of military and defense collaboration, Belarus has been cooperating with Pakistani defence officials since 2014. Pakistan is interested in electronic warfare technology and optical-electronic devices. In this regard, both states have the advantage to reinvigorate the structure of defence buildup. In the recent times, Pakistan’s Ministry of Science and Technology and the State Committee on Science and Technology (SCST) of Belarus also took the initiative to facilitate joint projects related to science and technology to strengthen bilateral cooperation. The technological projects (2019-2021) were determined by specifying the priority areas. For instance, the ICT sector and many other relevant areas.

Such joint programs can foster business collaboration, investment patterns and enhance people-to-people contact vis-à-vis culture exchange. In 2020, the governments of both countries were agreed on the ambitious goal of investment of $1bn of trade. In this aspect, it can be anticipated that the ratio of investment would be high in the future and more areas of cooperation will be incorporated.

In the long-term, economic cooperation will create connectivity beyond borders. Belarus is a hub in the Eurasian region, while Pakistan has a strong strategic position in South Asia. Thus, many opportunities exist to reinvigorate and stimulate economic and political partnerships and enhance regional cooperation.

Regional Cooperation: An Assessment of Startling Policies

His Excellency President Alexander Lukashenko released all the political prisoners in 2016 and introduced effective national policies while strengthening human/civil rights. This great gesture has been taken by the international community positively, and as a response, the sanctions were lifted by the European Union (EU). This diplomatic gesture opened many avenues of cooperation between Belarus and international organizations. For example, alignment with the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), has proved to be a great advantage for the country as it has exceptional potential in the trade-commerce sector. Moreover, due to the cultural affinity, Belarus has been enjoying great cordial and economic relations with Russia. This gives it access to the Russian markets, cheap energy resources, and massive business investment.

Belarus’s soft power policy has a primary objective to bring peace and promote regional interconnectivity. The key characteristics of the wider regional cooperation include effective, result-oriented all-inclusive economic cooperation, closer business to business interaction, extending political support at various international forums, dynamic cooperation in various fields along with culture, education, developing vibrant defense linkages, and building comprehensive inter-regional cooperation.

The new dynamics of mutual interest and cooperation with a result-oriented diplomatic can pave the way for Belarus to achieve its future aspirations.  In this aspect, many brilliant aspects are present to foster regional cooperation for Belarus. Under the dynamic leadership of President Aleksandr Lukashenko, Belarus will remain as a role model for other countries. The latest trends, policies, and global & national imperatives reflect the strategic goal of sustainable development in Belarus as an exceptional improvement of public welfare. In addition to that, the visionary leadership and state departments are working for cultural enrichment and morals of people based on intellectual and innovative economic development and environmental conservation for the present and future generations.

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