This century, Asian states are expected to dictate the climate of the global economy. Among them is rapidly-growing India, with its population of almost 1.3 billion and GDP of $2 trillion. It could yet join the world’s leading economies. Belarus is yet to make full use of the grand possibilities boasted by the Indian market, to bring benefit to our state, but our countries have top-level understanding of each other’s wishes.
This May, the Indian President visited Belarus for talks with Alexander Lukashenko. Pranab Mukherjee signed a ‘road map’ outlining priories for our interaction and the time has now come to activate these agreements. Minsk was recently visited by the Indian Minister of State for Commerce and Industry, Nirmala Sitharaman, who also met the President.
While waiting for the meeting to begin, I recollected Mr. Lukashenko’s recent talks with leaders from China, India and Pakistan. Many warm words were spoken, agreements signed and contracts concluded, giving grounds for pride. We are friends with major world players, who are interested in co-operation with Belarus, showing that we are respected and appreciated as a promising and reliable partner.
We now need to convert these words into concrete projects. Mr. Lukashenko believes that success lies in realising our agreements and on the efficiency of our key ministries’ interaction. He notes that no obstacles are to be created on the Belarusian side, saying, “We have no closed topics. Belarus is ready for open co-operation with India along every avenue.”
As regards mutual turnover, over the past seven months, this has risen by almost 30 percent, to reach $300m. However, more can be achieved. The President emphasises the close trade-economic relations which the USSR and India once enjoyed, and which can be revived.
A governmental Make in India programme is being realised, aiming to attract new production technologies into India. Our partners are interested in establishing joint facilities in the sphere of machine building. Moreover, India plans to triple its extraction from its rich deposits of stone coal, using heavy-duty dump trucks which could be provided by Belarusian BelAZ. Vehicles have successfully passed tests to operate in up to 50 degrees tropical climate, demonstrating better results than Japanese or American analogues.
Belarusian tractors have been working on Indian fields since Soviet times, without problems, but a new fleet is now needed. MAZ and Gomselmash have found partners in India and Mr. Lukashenko views the issue strategically, proposing to establish a large industrial centre in India — uniting production, sales and service maintenance of Belarusian machinery.
Our Indian guest appreciated the idea and has already voiced Indian companies’ readiness not only to buy potash fertilisers but to invest into the Belarusian potassium branch. Some time ago, the Government, under Jawaharlal Nehru, proposed that citizens expand their learning; as a result, the Indian IT market is now among the most fast growing in the world. Belarusian IT specialists are also among the best so it seems reasonable to unite efforts, to generate more profit.
Pharmacologists have already taken action, launching several investment projects, including the production of cancer-treatment drugs. To realise projects of the kind, the Chinese-Belarusian Great Stone Industrial Park is being set up, accommodating some high-tech Indian companies. In taking residency, they receive free access to the Eurasian Economic Union market and good prospects of mastering EU markets. Truly, no better logistics are to be found: Belarus is situated between these two economic giants.
The Indian Minster’s visit coincided with the end of the diplomatic mission of the Indian Ambassador, Manoj Kumar Bharti, to Belarus. The latter is now moving to Ukraine. Mr. Lukashenko warmly thanked the diplomat for his work and expressed hope that the new ambassador will cope with his task no less successfully.
By Vladimir Khromov