The level of development of Belarusian industry is decisive in determining the efficiency of the country's economy as a whole, its socio-economic potential, the standard of living of the people and its role in the international division of labor. By the beginning of the 90's positive results had been achieved in the development of the industrial complex through an accelerated growth of science-intensive production sectors that determined scientific and technical progress. The rates of growth of products such as electronic and computer products, precision instruments were 2.5-3 times ahead of the growth of traditional machine-building products.
In 1991-1994 because of the problems with investment inflow, ageing of the fixed assets and the reduced demand for science-intensive products caused by collapse of the military-industrial complex of the FSU, the structure of industry began to change radically.
In the period of 1991-1995, the greatest drop (5 times) took place in the fuel industry which practically entirely depends on the volumes of imported oil, in the construction materials sector; in the electricity generation and the light industry that operate using mostly imported raw materials.
The complex of anti-crisis measures taken by the government allowed, by the end of 1995, to stabilize the work of the majority of industrial sectors. Over the recent years, the industry as a whole and its leading sectors, in a new quality structure, steadily increase the output of products that are in demand.
The results of the work in 1996-1999 testify that the increase of industrial output took place both in export-oriented sectors (ferrous metallurgy, machine building, chemical and petrochemical industry, and woodworking) and in construction materials industry, light and food sectors, which produce their products mostly for the domestic market.
As regards separate sectors (ferrous metallurgy, forestry, woodworking and wood-pulp and paper industries), in 1997 the volume of production output reached the level of 1990, i.e., before the crisis. Other sectors (with the exception of fuel and energy complex) and the industry as a whole will be able to attain the pre-crisis level in 2000-2002.
Reformation of the economy is implemented alongside with restructuring the industrial enterprises. The number of industrial enterprises increased by 1.5 times as compared to 1990 whereas the average number of employees per enterprise went down from 911 to 430 persons due to division and creation of small-scale and medium-scale enterprises. Restructuring process conducted at large industrial enterprises has brought positive results including the higher productivity and production of new products.
In the CIS, Belarus occupies 0.9% of territory and accounts for 3.6% of the population, but produces 26.1% of mineral fertilizers, 53.7% of chemical fibers and threads, 33.8% of metal cutting machines, 6.7% of trucks, 58.7% of tractors, 27.4% of footwear, 52.3% of televisions, 33.4% of refrigerators and freezers, 11.4% of fabric, 13.3% of potatoes, 7.7% of milk and meat and 6.7% of eggs.
According to the latest data, Belarus occupies the 57th place in the world by its human development index, ranking considerably above other CIS countries, such as Russia (62nd), Kazakhstan (73th) and Ukraine (78th). Recently, however, it has been trailing behind some of its neighbours.
Belarus' inclusion in the international division of labor depends on a number of internal factors, including a well-developed scientific, technological and industrial capacity, educated population, adequate number of tertiary degree holders in technical sciences and humanities, and access to external sources of information, capital and resources. Although all of these factors are present in Belarus, it is important to make good use of them in order to protect the national interests and strengthen the nation's position in the global economy by building on its competitive advantages.
Integration in the global economy is an important prerequisite to successful transformation of the Belarusian economy and further development of its human potential.
Improving public health and popular living standards are important strategic objectives of the nation's socio-economic development. Progress in those areas depends on balanced and sustainable economic growth and an environment which enables advancement in all aspects of human activity.
Achievement of those goals is also contingent on faster economic growth and improvements in key economic indicators. There is a need to modernize the manufacturing industry by introducing new equipment and technologies, bringing them to new level of advancement. Adequate economic, social and institutional frameworks are also of crucial importance, particularly for increasing popular living standards, reducing income disparities, boosting savings and consumer demand, and creating a favorable living environment.
The transition to a post-industrial society demands a completely new approach to defining the role of the individual in scientific, technological, social and economic progress. The new vision of social progress puts people in the center. The benefit of the people is seen as a ultimate goal, and economic growth as a means to reach this goal. Today, social policies should focus on meeting people's needs.