Belarus could face same problems as Greece, Ireland: bank chief

National Bank of Belarus Chairman Pyotr Prokopovich warned Tuesday the country's economy could face the same problems as Greece and Ireland.

Prokopovich said a continuation of Belarus' foreign trade deficit over the next three years threatened the country's solvency.

"If we do not achieve a positive balance of foreign trade in 2014 we can have the same problems as Greece, Ireland and other countries that are experiencing problems with external debt. They were helped, but we don't have anybody to rely on," Prokopovich said.

"The main risk for us is that we are still living beyond our means. If this problem is not solved, it will threaten all our future," Prokopovich told the fourth All-Belarus People's Congress.

He said the current economic policy of increasing debt to compensate for the growing foreign trade deficit would result in Belarus remaining solvent for no more than three years.

"Our external debt climbs at least 20 percent every year, and now it's about 10 billion dollars. We can continue this for three years maximum," he said.

Prokopovich said the main tools to achieve a surplus would be large-scale foreign direct investment and massive growth of the private sector in the country's economy.

"We need a boom of foreign investment, which will provide a significant surplus on the balance of payments," the chairman said.

Belarus' main trading partner is Russia, with other significant contributers being the Netherlands, Ukraine, Germany, Poland, Latvia, Britain, China, Brazil and Italy.


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