Analysts are still guessing at what has inspired Russian PM Vladimir Putin’s goodwill gesture. Referring to his consultations with Dmitry Medvedev, he proposed to introduce an ‘integration decreasing coefficient’ to the gas pricing formula for Belarus in 2012. Many are convinced that this is not a present; Belarus aims to become an example for Ukraine (it has been long weighing the pros and cons of joining the Customs Union).
The Russian Prime Minister confirms that this is not a gift. Russian companies are expanding their presence on the Belarusian market, so such concessions are possible. The complex situation facing Belarus has objective reasons: ever growing energy prices which have led to Belarus’ negative trade balance in our two states’ mutual turnover. To remedy the situation, Belarus’ Prime Minister, Mikhail Myasnikovich, believes that we should increase the Republic’s share in Russia’s imports by 2 percent.
“Over the first six months of 2011, increasing energy prices led to Russia raising its positive trade balance with Belarus by almost $1.58bn, reaching $5bn. Over the past six years, this sum — $50bn — equals Belarus’ annual GDP,” explains Mr. Myasnikovich. He stresses that Belarusian-Russian companies can lift this misbalance and has asked ‘businessmen and scientists’ to study the issue.
During the Moscow meeting, journalists tried to learn about the prime ministers’ views on the Union State. “In some avenues of integration, the Union State is evidently ahead of the Customs Union and the Single Economic Space, since the latter integration associations do not focus on social issues. Meanwhile, some matters are borne within the Union State and are further realised as part of the Customs Union,” Mr. Putin notes.
“The experience of Belarusian-Russian integration should be taken into account in forming legislation for the Single Economic Space and in developing the Eurasian Economic Union’s declaration. We should have this document ready by the end of this year,” adds Mr. Myasnikovich.
He adds that we must shift from trade co-operation to co-ordinated industrial politics — both within the Union State and the Customs Union. Serious steps are already being taken in this direction, with new companies supplementing 2,000 Belarusian enterprises using Russian capital. Recently, Russian Gidromashservice bought a package of shares in Bobruisk Machine Building Plant. This Belarusian company is now the CIS’ largest producer of equipment for oil processing, and the petro-chemical, ore mining and metallurgical branches. No doubt, similar projects should increase in number.