The changes taking place in the world economy, to a greater or lesser extent, draw the Belarusian economy and, above all, its industry into its orbit. The world in the last quarter of the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries is experiencing a deep technological crisis, which is associated with the extinction of the industrial, the formation of a post-industrial technological mode of production. In this, the most important role belongs to industry.
Today, according to experts, the gap in technological levels between Belarus and the countries of the world is about 20 years, including more than 10 years in structural materials, about 25 years in the electric power industry. In the developed countries of the West, as in the former USSR, since the 50s. the formation of the fifth technological order began, the essence of which was the use of resource-saving technologies, But, if in the 70s. in the developed countries of the West, the redistribution of resources from the fourth to the fifth technological order acquired an irreversible character, then in the former USSR, on the contrary, a policy aimed at restoring the outdated technological order began to be pursued. And as a result, from 1975 to 1985, the lag of the USSR from the United States in terms of a generalizing indicator regarding the development of production of the fifth technological order increased from 2 to 10 years, and from Japan – from 12 to 70 years. The situation is particularly difficult in microelectronics. The technological lag of the USSR in this industry reached three generations of equipment in the late 80s. Almost the same situation was in other industries – laser, optoelectronic technology, the production of telecommunications, software, etc.
In the 90s. in Belarus, the conversion of the military-industrial complex was carried out, in which most of the fifth technological order was concentrated. However, this measure did not provide the domestic market with high-tech products. Belarus is still on the periphery of modern scientific and technological progress.
The modern sectoral structure of the production potential of Belarus in industry has its own characteristics (Table 8.19). It accounts for 50.6% of fixed production assets. As of 1.01.2000 there were about 1987 industrial enterprises in Belarus on an independent balance sheet (including small and joint ones). The share of unprofitable enterprises among them is constantly growing: from 7.9 in 1995 to 23.4% in 2000 (Table 8.20). In Belarus, the process of privatization and denationalization of industrial enterprises is slower than in neighbouring countries with economies in transition.
In 1995, the share of the non-state sector in the total number of industrial enterprises was 65%, in the total production of industrial products – 30% and in the total number of industrial and production personnel – 36%.
Table 8.19 Resource requirements
Dynamics of the sectoral structure of industrial and production fixed assets of Belarus, %, [2, p.145]
chemical and petrochemical
mechanical engineering and metalworking
forestry, woodworking and pulp and paper
building materials industry
Table 8.20 Resource requirements
Share of unprofitable enterprises and organizations
of the Republic of Belarus, %, [2, p.147]
Republic of Belarus
The changes that have occurred recently in the industry do not yet make it possible to improve its material and technical base. In most enterprises, it is represented by the traditional (fourth) technological order. Depreciation of the active part of fixed production assets remains beyond the economically permissible line. According to approximate estimates of experts, only about 18% of the total fleet of machines and equipment in the industry meet the world level, of which only 4% are engaged in technological processes that have world standards [2, p.18]. This indicates that for the sustainable development of the country it is necessary to change technologies in most industries as soon as possible, to reconstruct priority industries and thereby increase the competitiveness of products. Moreover, the state should pay special attention to the modernization of the knowledge-intensive industrial sector, export-oriented industries and import-substituting industries, education and development of industries based on the latest and high technologies.
The distribution of industrial and production fixed assets on the territory of the republic is uneven, sharply differentiated. The main part of them is concentrated in Minsk and Gomel regions (15% and 21%, respectively). Their relatively high concentration is also characteristic of the Mogilev region (14%). But the share of Brest and Grodno regions, taken together, in the value of industrial and production assets of Belarus does not exceed 20%. In the post-war period, measures were taken for the economic development of the western regions. But in general, the task of equalizing the production potential of the eastern and western regions was not set because of the border position of the latter.
In general, it should be noted that the deep socio-economic crisis of the late 80s – the first half of the 90s had a negative impact on the industry of Belarus. The technical base of most enterprises of the republic today represents the traditional (fourth) or even relict technological order. Therefore, the products produced at such enterprises are resource-intensive and uncompetitive. If in the leading countries of the world scientific and technological progress the share of the fifth technological order reached about half of GDP, then in Belarus in the early 90s it was only about 10%, and today, according to experts, it is at the level of 3-5% [6, p.24]. This suggests that negative trends and disproportions in the functioning of the technological structure of Belarus have not yet been overcome. The most important of these are:
weak orientation to meet the domestic needs of the population and the national economy (lack or insufficient production of machinery and equipment for the agro-industrial complex, insufficient development of construction and transport complexes, housing and communal services); low level of development of the sectors of public service and production; a sharp increase in the physical and moral deterioration of fixed assets due to the impossibility of implementing not only expanded, but also their simple reproduction; high energy and material intensity of production and the need for large supplies of fuel, energy and raw materials from abroad; insufficient level of development of export production, low competitiveness of domestic products in the world market.
To ensure the overall sustainable development of Belarus and its production potential, in particular, the most important task for the near future should be the restoration of the part of it that meets the needs of the population and the national economy (state support for vital facilities, technological re-equipment and reconstruction of enterprises, creation of new high-tech export-oriented and import-substituting industries, etc.). In the longer term, it should be envisaged to form a harmoniously developed, high-tech and environmental, non-resource-intensive production potential capable of producing goods and services that would be in demand in the domestic and foreign markets and thereby ensure the sustainable development of the republic’s economy.