Truly impressive growth in investments is vividly seen
By Yelena Yurkova
The first international Belarusian-Lithuanian forum took place in Klaipeda in 2005, while the second was held in Soligorsk — launching new transit opportunities for Belarusian cargo. “Belkali chose Klaipeda port in Lithuania as its main partner for transshipment of potash fertilisers to the West. We began by shipping a modest 250,000-500,000 tonnes of fertilisers but, by last year, this stood at over 6.5m tonnes,” stresses the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Belarus to Lithuania, H.E. Mr. Vladimir Drazhin.
Investment growth is impressive. “Over a single decade, from 2001 to 2010, Lithuania invested $150m in Belarus. Last year alone, this sum totalled $111m,” he explains. An investment mechanism was launched after the economic forum was held in Vilnius in 2009 (attended by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, who believes that Lithuanian businessmen can feel confident in investing in Belarus). During a visit to Minsk by the President of Lithuania, Dalia Grybauskaite, in 2010, a group of Lithuanian businessmen met the Belarusian President.
According to Mr. Drazhin, Lithuanian investors working in Belarus have received guarantees for the security of their assets. He notes, “Not a single cent has been lost, as our laws ensure the safety of capital injections in Belarus.” He views Lithuania’s Vakaru Medienos Grupe (one of the biggest timber exporters in the Baltic States) as a good example. The company is currently building a woodworking cluster in the Mogilev free economic zone. “The export potential of the company is $150-200m a year. This project is a good example of active work and capital investment. Today, we are working with 15 Lithuanian or joint projects — worth nearly $500m. This opens up big prospects,” Mr. Drazhin says.
In April, Grodno hosted the 8th International Belarus-Lithuania Economic Forum.