Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko said on Friday the economy was under unprecedented external pressure, a day after the United States and its allies imposed sanctions against dozens of individuals and entities in Belarus.
The latest round of sanctions aim to significantly increase pressure on Lukashenko, who is accused by Western governments of rigging a presidential election, ordering a massive crackdown on the opposition and pushing Middle East migrants towards the border with Poland – all of which he denies.
“Our economy is under external pressure on an unprecedented scale and depth,” Belarus’ state news agency Belta cited Lukashenko as saying. “Aggressive rhetoric persists.”
Lukashenko said Belarus had managed to maintain economic growth. The economy contracted by 0.9% last year, and the World Bank expects it to grow by 1.2% in 2021, according to October projections.
Belarusian authorities need to ensure that inflation drops to 6% in 2022, Lukashenko said, down from 10.5% as of Nov. 1.
“We plan to have single-digit inflation at 6% in 2022,” he said.
Shares of global potash producers rose on Thursday after sanctions on Belarus Potash Company (BPC), which is the exporting arm of Belarusian state potash producer Belaruskali and Minsk’s main foreign currency earner.
After the sanctions were imposed, BPC said on Friday it would work within existing legal frameworks, but did not elaborate.