Solutions to issues found without excessive debate
“Our main goal is to achieve equal rights and equal opportunities for our companies,” stressed the Prime Minister of Belarus, Mikhail Myasnikovich, opening the meeting. He noted that our two countries have seriously progressed since the creation of the Single Economic Space. “However, we still lack a single market; there are various confiscations and special conditions of trade which should be eliminated,” he emphasised.
By Vladimir Khromov
Mr. Myasnikovich explained that, in light of Russia joining the WTO, the Council of the Eurasian Economic Commission (EAEC) will consider all issues which arise, taking the necessary steps to prevent any loss to the Belarusian economy. At the same time, the Prime Minister assured his colleagues in the Union State, “We look forward to seeing Russian partners as shareholders and new owners of Belarusian real estate and other infrastructure.”
The Russian Prime Minister commented on integration, “Our relationship is on the rise, as evinced by our largest trade turnover to date, in the whole time of our economic co-operation.” Trade turnover with Russia exceeded $19bn in the first five months of this year (up 25 percent on the same period of 2011). “This is the result of our bilateral work and, of course, the integration process to create the Single Economic Space. Our main objective is to strengthen these positive aspects. For this purpose, our long-term relationship should be based not only on the supply of goods but on mutual projects. The task will only be fulfilled if such projects are fully carried out,” Mr. Medvedev asserted.
The construction of the Belarusian nuclear power station is one such project. “The building of a nuclear power station is a landmark event,” said Mr. Medvedev. “I hope that other projects will be implemented, such as in the machine building. If we can move forward in this matter, the degree of integration of our economies will rise significantly. Our relationship will be clearly long-term, depending not on any international situation, or the price of oil, gas, machine building products or other factors.”
In all, 23 questions were discussed at the meeting, with one added to the agenda at the last minute: to create a high-level group (to include the Belarusian and Russian deputy prime ministers and ministers) able to quickly solve issues connected with integration. The motion was passed promptly and in a business-like manner. Mr. Medvedev mentioned, “This is the first time in the history of the Council of Ministers that all issues have been agreed on the same day they were voted upon. We have avoided many hours of discussion, which gives me great satisfaction.”
Mr. Myasnikovich noted that Russia’s joining the WTO may have consequences for Belarusian manufacturers. He explained, “We’ve discussed these difficult issues and have taken steps to allow our integration relations to continue developing dynamically.”
The Council of Ministers discussed topics of great practical importance, with the balance of supply and demand for certain types of goods approved. A carefully developed programme to update the transport system was passed smoothly and a plan of action for 2012 was adopted. The everyday life of Belarusians and Russians depends on implementing such plans. Innovative aspects of integration were also debated, alongside the creation of new technologies and agro-equipment. A report on the budget for 2011 was presented and the PMs raised the issue of how to revitalise the Union State Permanent Committee, raising its potential, strengthening its supervisory functions and focusing on specific cases.