Financial sources easily found for park
Belarus and China sign framework agreement on financing of first stage of joint industrial park, while outlining plans to enhance investment co-operation
By Vasily Kharitonov
Following the results of the 13th session of the Belarusian-Chinese Intergovernmental Commission for Trade and Economic Co-operation, the Chairman of the Belarusian side of the Commission, Deputy Prime Minister Anatolik Tozik, joined the Chairman of the Chinese side, Vice Minister of Commerce Jiang Yaoping, in signing not only a final memorandum on the meeting of the Commission but a protocol for the first meeting of the Intergovernmental Co-ordinating Council of the Chinese-Belarusian Industrial Park.
According to Mr. Tozik, over the past year, our two states’ credit-investment collaboration has formed the basis for bilateral economic relations, which are developing dynamically. Chinese loans of nearly $5.5bn have helped Belarus realise major projects of economic modernisation. Several projects have been completed this year, with others now entering an active stage and others just launching. As Mr. Tozik stresses, several joint projects which began 3-5 years ago are now complete. Among them are the newly modernised Minsk TPP #2 and #5 and two new cement plants in the Grodno and Mogilev regions. Some projects are still adapting their design documentation, with equipment being supplied and financial resources being acquired. In this category are two new 400mW blocks at Bereza and Lukoml hydro-electric power stations, the new Vitebsk hydro-electric power station and Krichev cement plant, and electricity supply for two sections of Belarusian Railways, as well as the supply of electric freight trains. New projects are also in the pipeline, with sites being chosen and designs debated: a new section of road for the Zhlobin-Gomel highway; and a facility for processing bleached pulp.
Over the last twelve months, several promising investment projects have been signed, as have new contracts and credit agreements: the construction of a plant to produce coated and uncoated cardboard (in April 2012, two credit agreements were signed with State Development Bank of China for a loan of $348m); a new section of road between Bobruisk and Zhlobin; the creation of a national system of satellite communication and broadcast in Belarus; and the construction of a 330kW electric line (to receive power from the future Belarusian nuclear power station).
As Mr. Tozik notes, no obstacles have presented themselves. He tells us, “The Chinese companies realising the projects are long known to Belarusian partners, as is vital to both sides in signing contracts. We each realise our duties to meet deadlines and to ensure the best quality. This applies equally to Chinese general contractors and to their Belarusian customers.”
Direct Chinese investments have brought about the construction of the Beijing Hotel, a residential suburb in the Lebyazhy District and the establishment and development of Belarusian-Chinese BELJI (jointly with Geely) and Midea-Horizont. Mutually beneficial co-operation between Belarusian and Chinese machine builders is evident in joint facilities assembling tractors and combine harvesters in Harbin (in co-operation with Dongjin Group). Mr. Tozik stresses that work continues to attract further direct Chinese investments into agriculture and the food industry. Export-oriented plants are a priority, as is the processing of flax and potatoes.