In 2019 the share of manufacturing in GDP was 31%, over two thirds of this amount falls on manufacturing industries. The number of people employed in industry is 34.7% of the working population. The growth rate is much lower than for the economy as a whole—about 2.2% in 2021. At the time of the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, Belarus was one of the world’s most industrially developed states by percentage of GDP as well as the richest CIS member-state. In 2015, 39.3% of Belarusians were employed by state-controlled companies, 57.2% were employed by private companies (in which the government has a 21.1% stake) and 3.5% were employed by foreign companies. The country relies on Russia for various imports, including petroleum. Important agricultural products include potatoes and cattle byproducts, including meat. In 1994, Belarus’s main exports included heavy machinery (especially tractors), agricultural products, and energy products. Economically, Belarus involved itself in the CIS, Eurasian Economic Community, and Union with Russia.
In the 1990s, however, industrial production plunged due to decreases in imports, investment, and demand for Belarusian products from its trading partners. GDP only began to rise in 1996; the country was the fastest-recovering former Soviet republic in the terms of its economy. In 2006, GDP amounted to US$83.1 billion in purchasing power parity (PPP) dollars (estimate), or about $8,100 per capita. In 2005, GDP increased by 9.9%; the inflation rate averaged 9.5%.
Since the disintegration of the Soviet Union, under Lukashenko’s leadership, Belarus has maintained government control over key industries and eschewed the large-scale privatizations seen in other former Soviet republics.
In 2006, Belarus’s largest trading partner was Russia, accounting for nearly half of total trade, with the European Union the next largest trading partner, with nearly a third of foreign trade. As of 2015, 38% of Belarusian exported goods go to Russia and 56% of imported goods come from Russia.
Belarusian annual GDP and CPI rates 2001–2013
Due to its failure to protect labor rights, including passing laws forbidding unemployment or working outside of state-controlled sectors, Belarus lost its EU Generalized System of Preferences status on 21 June 2007, which raised tariff rates to their prior most favored nation levels. Belarus applied to become a member of the World Trade Organization in 1993.
The labor force consists of more than four million people, among whom women hold slightly more jobs than men. In 2005, nearly a quarter of the population was employed by industrial factories. Employment is also high in agriculture, manufacturing sales, trading goods, and education. The unemployment rate, according to government statistics, was 1.5% in 2005. There were 679,000 unemployed Belarusians, two-thirds of whom were women. The unemployment rate has been in decline since 2003, and the overall rate of employment is the highest since statistics were first compiled in 1995.