Has Belarus made it on the world stage?

Published 22 May 19

Russia’s trade policy has had far reaching effects on the importance of Belarus as a key dairy exporter. Initially, the 2014 Russian ban on dairy imports allowed Belarus to capitalise on the opportunities the ban presented. As a result, both its milk production and export volumes increased significantly in the aftermath of the ban. More recently however, Russia has banned some milk and dairy products from Belarus, pushing them to develop new export markets.

Prior to the 2014 ban, milk production in Belarus had been fairly steady at around 6.4 billion litres. By 2017, it had increased 11% to 7.1 billion litres.

Dairy export volumes also increased 8% in that period, with exports to Russia making up 20% of the volume increase. Since 2010, exports to Russia had consistently made up over 90% of their export volume, standing at 91% in 2017.

Following Russia’s ban on dairy products from Belarus in early 2018, their exports fell back to levels closer to 2014, making up only 77% of the total. Despite the reduction, Belarus still made up 87% of Russia’s 2018 dairy imports.

Belarus has been expanding its global reach in recent years, both to help deal with its higher milk production, but also to reduce reliance on the Russian market. Exports to Kazakhstan and China rose dramatically in 2018 in comparison to historical levels, and look to have partially offset the impacts of reduced access to Russia. It is also reported that they are planning a joint milk processing venture in neighbouring Tajikistan. 

Belarus country profile