Response in good time


The results of Alexander Lukashenko’s recent visit to Serbia are not late in arriving. A large delegation of Serbian businessmen — headed by the Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Economy Mladjan Dinkic — recently visited Minsk to meet state officials and potential partners. The Belarusian President personally welcomed the Serbian millionaires, saying, “Thank you for so quickly responding to my proposals made in Serbia. Trust is vital for business, in addition to money, profitability and revenue.” According to Mr. Lukashenko, the Serbs are similar to Belarusians and he is confident that confidential relations will be established between our two states’ business circles. A Business Co-operation Council of major entrepreneurs from both sides is to contribute. “My one request is that this Council operate outside of politics; politics should not hamper business,” Mr. Lukashenko stresses.
Taking into consideration the drastic changes which have occurred in Serbian history over the past two decades, few would be surprised that Belarus-Serbia trade has been developing slowly. However, steady growth has been registered in recent years. Mr. Lukashenko believes that we can achieve more than the 65 million US Dollars turnover of last year. There are two ways of improving the situation; Minsk and Belgrade are ready to try every avenue, with state levers used alongside an agreement on free trade (signed in Minsk). “This document makes it possible to trade goods between Serbia and Belarus without paying customs fees — with a few exceptions. There are prospects for exporting to third markets too,” noted Mr. Dinkic. Belarus’ Vice Prime Minister Vladimir Semashko believes turnover could rise fivefold in coming years.

Preferential terms for entrepreneurs from our two states are vital. “As governments, we’ll definitely help these people to realise concrete projects,” Mr. Dinkic emphasised. Retail networks, pharmaceuticals, white goods, energy, direct flights and tourism are promising avenues for collaboration. One major project is the opening of an assembly line for Belarusian tractors in Serbia — to satisfy demand in Turkey, Bulgaria and Bosnia. Belgrade made a detailed proposal to Minsk Tractor Works last year and, soon, a group of experts will be heading to the Balkans to make an assessment. A business plan will then be compiled to determine potential mutual profit.
In Minsk, the Serbian guests visited various roadside services under construction along the ring road. Minsk Governor Mikhail Pavlov has invited them to participate.

Vitaly Vasiliev
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