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Belarus eagerly trades with offshore countries
Trade with some countries looks suspicious, to put it mildly.
Have you ever heard of the Marshall Islands? It's a tiny state in the Pacific Ocean with a population of about 55 thousand people (less than Slutsk) and a GDP of ridiculous $220 million. In 2020 Belarus purchased $25 million worth of "services" from this state. What kind of services? The documents do not contain an exact answer.
By the way, the Marshall Islands is a popular offshore. It is a territory within which companies doing business outside it enjoy registration and tax exemptions.
Would you like some services?
Official statistics divide foreign trade into two categories: goods and services. The trade using services is a vast field: from buying intellectual property rights to financial and legal services. And there is the article "other business services": in 2020, the volume of foreign trade in it was $1.7 billion.
Of course, you won't find "withdrawal of funds" in the official documents. It can be disguised as any transaction involving the purchase and sale of a "service." And trade with faraway exotic countries, whose entire economies are sustained only by their offshore activities, arouses the greatest suspicion.
$130 million a year
Euroradio has compiled a list of countries recognized worldwide as offshore and calculated how prosperous Belarus was in trading with them in 2020. The total turnover was more than $130 million!
With some territories - for example, with Anguilla (a dwarf state in the Caribbean; not to be confused with England) - the annual turnover is modest: 11.5 thousand dollars. Although in 2014 it was 40 times more.
But there are those with whom the market has a turnover of millions. For example, in 2020, Belarus traded with the Bahamas for $2.2 million. Imports account for almost everything - that is, someone placed in Belarus buys some services there, for which they transfer money there. In 2019, our country's turnover with the Bahamas was over $9 million.
Last year, Belarus bought $6 million worth of services in Barbados, which is also famous as an offshore destination. Eight hundred kilometers away from Barbados lie the British Virgin Islands, another favorite offshore territory. For example, the owner of a sizeable Belarusian exporter of solvents is registered there. Belarus "traded services" with the BVI for $31.5 million in a year. Most of it was imports.
Geography for the curious
The list of offshore foreign economic partners of Belarus can be used to study geography. Guernsey, an island in the English Channel, is not taught at school. But our country trades with it for almost $8 million a year.
Or, for example, Gibraltar. De jure it is a British overseas territory, which is also famous as one of the offshore centers. Belarus traded with it for $10 million a year.
Curaçao is not just a liquor but also an independent country, though formally a part of the Netherlands. As is often the case with offshore, it is located on a picturesque island in the Caribbean Sea. In 2020, Belarus traded $15 million in services with Curaçao. It's primarily Belarusian exports - that is, we sold them some services and received the money. Or did we pay them back?
Africa does not lack offshore countries either. For example, Belarus has bought $11.7 million worth of services from Liberia, one of the poorest countries in the world. The leading "service" of this country in the international market is selling the so-called "flag of convenience" - the right for foreign ships to fly the Liberian flag and thus receive reduced port fees in most countries of the world.
More than $1 million is Belarus' turnover with St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Seychelles, the Isle of Man, Jersey, and Belize.
And it goes on
At the beginning of 2021, active trade with some "interesting" countries actively continues. In January-February alone, according to official statistics, we purchased more than $5 million worth of services from the Marshall Islands. Considering that the banking sector produces half of the country's GDP, what kind of services are these?