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A strategic view of the long-term period is important today more than ever

The world is going deeper into a leapfrog of unpredictable events. Countries that incorporate strategic principles of development will be able to stay afloat in this whirlpool and even enter a positive course of development. Tactics may change, but clear, straightforward, understandable goals must be defined. And not for tomorrow or the day after tomorrow, but for several decades ahead with an extension for decades. With all its external simplicity, strategic thinking is the highest intellectual art. Unfortunately, it was partially lost during a rather long period of globalization. At that time, the world economy was developing according to a single plan (although not quite clear who developed it), there were transnational trends, long-term forecasts of various reputable international analytical organizations (which were never responsible for their estimations). And for a small economy, it was the top of efficiency to integrate into those global currents. The covid period has already shown the need for a sovereign economic policy, first of all strategic. The unity of development, even theoretical, collapsed. And everyone competes with everyone. Therefore, it is critical, vital to look into the future for the life of one or even two generations. Moreover, many of the processes that are basic for development are long-term in nature. This broad topic was the subject of a workshop on defining the strategic prospects for the development of the Republic of Belarus, organized by the Research Economic Institute of the Ministry of Economy and which was attended by BISR Director Oleg Makarov.

The BISR Director drew attention to the fact that modern trends are far from unambiguous on the long-term track. He emphasized: quite a lot of serious analysts believe that the pendulum may swing towards globalization again. These experts do not exclude that a successful change of and administration in the White House may give America new strength, which will allow it to regain a dominant position in the world. But analysts have no consensus on this. Looking beyond the horizon of two decades is quite difficult, if at all possible. At least from the standpoint of trying to accurately describe the future reality. Moreover, in ¬conditions of turbulence, accurate forecasts compromise themselves very quickly, not coinciding with reality. According to Oleg Makarov, it is extremely necessary to develop a system of effective response to challenges.

- We, the BISR, are not so much concerned about external trends, although many of them are very disturbing, as we are concerned about our reaction to external changes. It is obvious that the global crisis is dragging on and it is necessary to mobilize both public administration and society adequately to the change in external conditions.

Oleg Makarov outlined several key challenges. First, demographic realities that will dominate the economy. There is a shortage of some professions. For example, drivers, as this profession becomes international, like an IT specialist, a pilot, and so on. Will Belarusian business entities be able to compete for this category of professionals at the regional level? Oleg Makarov also sees a threat in the ongoing urbanization. A lot has been done to revitalize the regions and reduce the outflow of population from them. But Minsk and regional centers continue attracting economically active resources.

Also, in his opinion, in addition to opportunities, the emerging track towards fragmentation of the world economy also carries risks — within the framework of macro-regions, the specialization of their member countries will still be formed.

- It is necessary to form breakthrough directions. The story of the IT country, which could play during globalization, is no longer obvious that it will be able to provide ¬national economic specialization. There are promising options for more active development of the mechanical engineering and microelectronics sectors. But we have not yet occupied this niche irrevocably and firmly. If we rely on these industries, then much remains to be done to achieve their highest competitiveness. Specialization is seen as an indispensable condition for the economic component of the Belarusian sovereignty. So far, it is determined by political consensus and political will, first of all, by the President. But it is also necessary to develop economic mechanisms that would stably ensure our independence.