Strategic character of bilateral relations isn’t subject to any market fluctuations
During the President’s official visit to the Russian Federation, Alexander Lukashenko and Vladimir Putin demonstrate aspiration to solve most complex issues while negotiating in Kremlin, taking into account mutual interests of Belarus and Russia
During the President’s official visit to the Russian Federation, Alexander Lukashenko and Vladimir Putin demonstrate aspiration to solve most complex issues while negotiating in Kremlin, taking into account mutual interests of Belarus and Russia.
Mr. Lukashenko expressed his desire for collaboration, saying, “We’re well aware of what Russia wants from Belarus, and I’m sure that Russia knows absolutely what Belarus needs from Russia. The solution of existing issues will bring our nations even closer.”
Mr. Putin agreed, and again congratulated his colleague on his convincing election win, noting that they were expecting Mr. Lukashenko on an official visit to Moscow and that the presidents have much to discuss.
There were enough political and economic topics for interesting dialogue, including the implementation of major joint projects. The most significant is the construction of the Belarusian nuclear power station. Moreover, joint protection of the Union State border in the western direction also deserves attention. The regional group of troops has been reinforced by an air defence system.
In discussing successes and achievements, economic issues were in the limelight, as falling world prices for hydrocarbons, and sanctions between Russia and West, as well as the global recession and reduced Russian Rouble exchange rate have affected mutual trade turnover. Last year, it stood at $37.6bn: 5 percent down on 2013. Over the first ten months of this year, mutual trade fell by 27 percent in US Dollar equivalent (in Belarusian Roubles, it rose). However, as Belarus relies on exporting two thirds of its goods, we need to improve this situation, finding points of growth in bilateral relations.
Belarus exports almost $10bn of goods and services to Russia, yet does not demand special privileges or concessions for its enterprises. However, we have the right to hope that equal conditions for competition will be created within the Union State, by removing restrictions and administrative barriers.
Mr. Lukashenko is convinced that the import-substitution programme implemented in Russia shouldn’t make it more difficult for Belarus to supply its goods and services to the Russian market. Everything should be fair, open and transparent, including for schemes of state purchase, credit and financial support and infrastructure projects.
This is the major rule of integration and there can be no exceptions. This also concerns measures to support national enterprises. Our governments have signed a plan to create additional conditions for the development of trade-economic co-operation, with particular reference for Belarusian military-industrial, agrarian and machine building industries. These form the core of the economy, making a significant contribution to the provision of common security and strengthening of economic potential.
Undoubtedly, our presidents discussed how best to strengthen collaboration in the military-technical sphere: an acute topic during this time of global military conflict, international terrorism and extremism. Millions of refugees seek safety and even traditionally calm and trouble-tree European states don’t feel secure.
Mr. Lukashenko and Mr. Putin spoke, in particular, about Ukraine, the Middle East and other hot spots. Belarus confirmed its interest in peaceful, political settlement of today’s most pressing issues, with Minsk working to resolve the situation in Ukraine, by offering itself as a venue for talks (under the ‘Normandy’ format or otherwise).
The agenda also included discussion of how best to strengthen economic integration within the Eurasian space. The acceleration of our Union State ‘locomotive’ is important for other integration structures. Our partners in the Eurasian Economic Union are keen to see how Belarusian-Russian relations are developing, wishing to use this as a model for mutual consideration of interests and the quick solution of even the most complicated issues.
Terms of organisation for the Supreme State Council of the Union State will be agreed early next year. However, it’s already known that the 2016 Union State budget will be spent on realising 40 Union State programmes.
Mr. Putin noted an important initiative in the migration sphere. From January 1st, foreign citizens wishing to live and work in Russia will need to demonstrate mastery of the Russian language, as well as of Russian history and fundamentals of legislation. This innovation won’t affect Belarusian passport holders, with a corresponding draft bill being already studied in the State Duma.
Negotiations lasted for almost four hours, resulting in the presidents’ signing of a joint statement of major principles of strategic partnership, as well as priorities for further development. These include the enhancement of competitiveness of enterprises, the expansion of industrial co-operation, the conduct of an agreed policy in the sphere of import substitution and stimulation of mutual investments.
Relations between Russia and Belarus are strategic in character, relying on solid traditions of friendship, mutual respect, good neighbourliness of our two brotherly nations and our shared interests regarding the development of multi-dimensional Union State Russian-Belarusian interaction across all spheres.
There are no closed topics for discussion. We absolutely trust each other and openly express our views. Today, there isn’t a single issue upon which we haven’t agreed and which is in need of profound elaboration. There are a couple of issues to be elaborated within the coming week; our governments have adopted corresponding decisions and we hope for further co-operation with Russia. I’m convinced it will be so.
By Vasily Kharitonov
Dynamics of trading networks
Belarus trades with over 190 states but Russia remains its major partner — accounting for around 40 percent of Belarusian exports and over 50 percent of imports
In turn, Belarus is among Russia’s major trading partners, placed fifth behind China, Germany, the Netherlands and Italy. Key Belarusian exports to Russia comprise meat and dairy products, trucks, tractors, truck tractors, oil products, furniture and sugar. The country imports energy (oil, natural gas, oil products and electricity) from Russia, as well as passenger cars, metals and metal products, communication devices, TV sets and monitors.
From January-October 2015, Belarusian-Russian turnover stood at $22.9bn — including $8.7bn of exports and $14.2bn of imports. Growth has been registered in natural volumes of Belarusian sales of chipboard, butter, dried and concentrated milk, sour cream, special purpose vehicles, paints, lacquers, meat, poultry, cottage cheese and steel pipes.