Many opportunities for true partnership
Prime Minister Mikhail Myasnikovich visits China
By Vladimir Khromov
This is the first time that Mikhail Myasnikovich has visited China in his new position. However, many projects from his previous work connect him with this country. In 2010, Mr. Myasnikovich became a cavalier of the Order of Friendship for specialists of the People’s Republic of China for his merits in science, a high honour, which has been bestowed upon few foreigners so far. During their official meeting, the President of the People’s Republic of China, Xi Jinping, assured his guest of the continuation of friendship both at a personal level and in the issue of big policy.
Mr. Jinping noted that the visit by the Belarusian Prime Minister to China is held ‘in the footsteps’ of Alexander Lukashenko’s trip to the country last July, with slightly over six months having passed between the two meetings. According to the Chinese President, this testifies to the mutual interest of both states. “We’re ready to communicate with our Belarusian colleagues, while straining every sinew in order to reinforce political support,” he stressed.
In his turn, Mr. Myasnikovich noted that our country constantly feels the strong and friendly support of their partner, “We’re very pleased with China’s successes on the political arena, as well as in the economic sphere. The basis of your achievements is hard-work and the creative power of the Chinese nation, the governing and directing role of the Communist Party, alongside love towards your homeland, your dedication to work and right mindedness.”
Judging by the first results of the visit, the expression ‘entrance to new level of co-operation’ can hardly be called merely a stock phrase. Most of the working meetings testify that China is really interested in economic contacts with Belarusian enterprises. The Chinese business, previously performing only contracted works under tied loans (allocated for such projects), is now keen to directly invest into the Belarusian economy. One example is the negotiations with the leadership of China Investment Corporation (CIC). One of the richest organisations in China, managing the money of the local National Development Fund, it is ready to study the possibility of investment into Belarusian companies — both into existing enterprises and so called ‘greenfield’ projects — plants which are constructed from scratch. Mr. Myasnikovich noted that such tendencies are of the kind where there is ‘no turning back’ — when business is done for many years ahead.
During the visit, one of the large-scale projects was also under discussion — it can be called the brightest example of the investment collaboration. It referred to the assembly of Geely passenger cars. The heads of the companies discussed with Mr. Myasnikovich a range of issues, connected with plant construction near Borisov. In 2015, it’s planned to launch a production line of the Chinese-Belarusian automobiles. By this time, around 60,000 vehicles will have been manufactured annually, and their number should double three years later.
According to the Head of the Belarusian Government, the economic policies of the two countries are very similar, which brings the partners closer and enables more understanding of each other.
As far as Belarus is concerned, the PM noted that the government pays careful attention both to the public and private sectors, thus ensuring the protection of property rights and openness to foreign investors. “In recent years, Belarus has raised about $50bn in foreign direct investment, including $195m from China,” said the Belarusian Prime Minister. Mr. Myasnikovich urged Chinese business to be more active in the Belarusian market, while telling the representatives of the business community about the main benefits of doing business in Belarus.
In particular, these include a tax-free regime and simplified customs procedures for residents of the Chinese-Belarusian Industrial Park, as well as legal guarantees of property protection. “Belarus applies preferential treatment, not only in the Chinese-Belarusian Industrial Park, but also in small towns and rural areas,” explained Mr. Myasnikovich. In addition, the labour force in Belarus is skilled and cheap, and co-operation with Belarus gives an opportunity to access European markets and the Customs Union.
According to the Prime Minister, the recently signed road map for the development of bilateral relations between Belarus and China also opens up new opportunities for Chinese companies. Moreover, some experience has been already gained. Today, China is home to Belarusian-Chinese companies, particularly those producing agricultural and automotive equipment.
Mr. Myasnikovich sees great potential in bringing together the IT and communications business of the two countries. “In this way we can create a strong cluster, which will successfully position itself in the market of information and communication services and equipment for telecommunications,” noted the Head of Government. He expressed confidence that the business co-operation and the establishment of competitive joint ventures will be mutually beneficial. “Such collaboration is very promising,” Mr. Myasnikovich is convinced.