By Andrey Sukhomlinov
According to the Russian Kommersant newspaper, Belarusians are already extracting oil in Venezuela while constructing factories, railways and gas pipelines. The recent visit of the Belarusian delegation to Venezuela has resulted in contracts being signed for the construction of houses in Venezuela and the development of a gas and transport system. The agreement envisages the building of 20,000 panel houses and a brick factory in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. Minsk will also help create a network of railroads. Agreements on the joint development of two gas blocks at Lake Maracaibo in Zulia State have been signed, as have those dealing with the construction of a gas pipeline from Barquisimeto in the State of Barinas. From 2011-2013, over 13,000 Venezuelan houses are to be connected to the gas supply. Minsk and Caracas are activating the work of Petrolera BeloVenesolana JV, which already has a license to develop five oil fields and plans to extract over 1m tonnes of hydrocarbon raw material this year.
The article writes that Belarus is gradually becoming one of Venezuela’s key partners. According to OPEC, it boasts the world’s largest oil resources, while being rich in other minerals. Belarus is interesting to Venezuela as a strategic foothold at the centre of Europe, boasting well-developed machine building and agriculture. The economies of both states are complementary while mutual trade turnover could reach $2bn later this year. Six years ago, in the early years of our relations, this stood at around $7m.
Our two states are now implementing dozens of contracts and programmes while creating solid legislation, shifting away from pure trade. Soon, factories manufacturing Belarusian trucks and tractors will become operational in Venezuela. A factory making construction materials is also being built, while opportunities to construct joint enterprises manufacturing clothes, footwear and furniture are being studied. Belarus is expanding its supply of agricultural produce to Venezuela while sales of Belarusian tyres, waste disposal units, textiles and other industrial goods are being negotiated.
This April, Belarus and Venezuela opened a joint trading house in Caracas, with 51 percent of the statutory fund belonging to Venezuela and 49 percent being owned by Belarus. The enterprise has been tasked with expanding the range of exported and imported goods, to raise trade turnover between our two states.
Minsk is working hard to create a contemporary agro-industrial complex in Venezuela, while the supply of Venezuelan oil to Belarus has been clearly set out for the mid-term. Negotiations are underway regarding Venezuelan investments into the Belarusian economy — including the privatisation of Belarusian industrial enterprises (another mutually beneficial area for bilateral interaction). Collaboration in the humanitarian sphere is also expanding, as are liaisons in education, culture, sports, tourism and science.