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Many forms of co-operation are widely used in interrelations with Russian regions

Within the space of Baltic fairway

By Vladimir Khromov

Many forms of co-operation are widely used in interrelations with Russian regions

Just within several days President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko has met in Minsk with the Governor of St. Petersburg Georgy Poltavchenko and Governor of the Kaliningrad Region Nikolai Tsukanov.

Georgy PoltavchenkoOn meeting with Mr. Poltavchenko, Mr. Lukashenko noted with satisfaction that, in 2013, Belarus-Saint Petersburg trade totalled $1.9bn. This year, the figure is expected to reach $2bn. In January-September 2014, a 9 percent increase in comparison with 2013 was registered. “It’s a positive trend. Let’s hope it will continue,” said the Head of State.

“It’s a good thing that we’ve made the transition from direct trade to the creation of joint projects, primarily in the sphere of industrial co-operation. It is an important direction and we’ll support it,” noted the President. The projects he referred to were those to create passenger cars, road construction and municipal vehicles and to ship these vehicles from Belarus to Saint Petersburg, if necessary. The Head of State is particularly pleased with the success of collaboration in the agricultural industry. Food and raw agricultural materials account for about 40 percent of Belarusian exports to St. Petersburg and constitute 10 percent of Belarus’ total food export to Russia.

Mr. Lukashenko stressed that interaction between Belarus and St. Petersburg could be an example for other Russian regions to follow. “I would like our co-operation to be an example for the entire area of Russia: in construction, culture and in healthcare,” he said.

In his turn, Mr. Poltavchenko drew attention to Belarus’ exemplary treatment of veterans, including those that live in St. Petersburg.

Nikolai TsukanovAs far as collaboration with the Kaliningrad Region is concerned, in 2008, the trade turnover between Belarus and this Russian region almost neared $0.5bn. However, the global crisis followed and the mutual trade has fallen by more than 3-fold. Meanwhile, mutual business interest takes its course. Starting from 2010, the bilateral trade has been on the rise. It reached almost $300m in 2013 and has now increased by further 15 percent. During the meeting with the Governor of the Kaliningrad Region, Nikolai Tsukanov, the President noted that it’s necessary to set a task to reach the pre-crisis level, and the guest agreed. What points of growth should primarily receive attention?

Kaliningrad is among the cities which are going to welcome the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Belarus has covered a similar way when preparing for the IIHF World Championship. The country has accumulated huge experience both in the construction of sites -- necessary for the large-scale event -- and in their exploitation and organisation of work as a whole. The guests are extremely keen on this experience and Minsk is ready to share its best practices. Moreover, the President drew attention to the fact that the necessity will obligatory appear to renew the transport infrastructure. A fleet of trams, buses and trolley buses needs to be renewed. Belarus has all these and is ready to supply this machinery. Additionally, Minsk sees great prospects in the development of business interaction with the focus made on industrial co-operation, and this finds a corresponding response from Kaliningrad.

Another important area is agro-industrial collaboration. Provision with food products is objectively a weak point of the Kaliningrad Region, as the enclave is greatly dependant from the supplies from the ‘mainland’. Therefore, self-production is seen here as one of the priority tasks. Meanwhile, Belarus is now ready to lend its shoulder in the supplies of its agricultural produce to the region.

The negotiations also tackled other areas of co-operation and all of them will be soon developed in practice.
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