Posted: 11.06.2024 09:05:51

Import substitution, co-operation, reliance on high technologies

The President of Belarus, Aleksandr Lukashenko, has visited Russia’s Irkutsk Region with a working trip

President of Belarus Aleksandr Lukashenko and Governor of Russia’s Irkutsk Region Igor Kobzev       BELTA

The plane of the Belarusian leader arrived in Russia from Chinggis Khan International Airport in Ulaanbaatar. Aleksandr Lukashenko was in Mongolia on a state visit, during which the presidents of the two countries held official talks one-on-one and with the participation of their delegations. The parties reached an agreement on expanding co-operation in trade and economy, supplying the Mongolian market with food and industrial products of Belarusian enterprises, as well as joint work in the agro-industrial complex.
Aleksandr Lukashenko met with Governor of Russia’s Irkutsk Region Igor Kobzev. The Belarusian Head of State was greeted with bread and salt and folk songs in front of the Irkutsk Region Government building. Veterans of war and labour, artists of the folklore group of the Irkutsk Association of Belarusian Culture and the Obereg folk group of the Irkutsk Regional Folk Art Centre came to welcome Aleksandr Lukashenko. 
Igor Kobzev informed the President of Belarus about the region’s capabilities and industrial potential. He dwelt on the economy of the region and talked about the major investment projects underway in the region. “Today we need and want the presence of our brothers, colleagues and partners. We are always open,” the governor said. 
After the meeting with Igor Kobzev, Aleksandr Lukashenko talked to local residents as townspeople gathered near the administration building waiting for the President of Belarus. As it turned out, many of them have relatives in Belarus. “Visit us more often,” Irkutsk citizens asked the President of Belarus while taking memorable photos with him. 
Later, President of Belarus Aleksandr Lukashenko visited the Irkutsk Aviation Plant. At the plant, the Head of State got familiar with the stages of military aircraft production, and the assembly of the MC-21 passenger liner. By the way, aircraft for the Belarusian Air Force are also made here. The top executives of the plant informed the President of Belarus in detail about the products and promising developments.  
The Irkutsk Aviation Plant seeks to expand industrial co-operation with aviation enterprises of Belarus. Therefore, the topic of implementing joint projects, for example, in the machine tool industry and microelectronics, became the main topic during the visit of the Head of State. At the plant, Aleksandr Lukashenko was presented with a model of the Su-30 fighter jet. “My favourite aircraft,” the President noted. “The most important thing is it is highly manoeuvrable,” emphasised Aleksandr Veprev, General Director of the Irkutsk Aircraft Plant. 
The Irkutsk Aviation Plant is one of the most modern and high-performance enterprises in the Russian aircraft industry. 
Its major projects today are Su-30 fighter jets and Yak-130 combat training aircraft. In addition, the company is currently launching serial production of the first civilian airliner in its history — MC-21. 
In total, the plant has produced more than 8,000 aircraft of about 30 types and modifications. Irkutsk-made aircraft have been supplied to 40 countries over the years.
Belarus is one of the company’s key customers, operating both types of aircraft mass-produced at the Irkutsk Aviation Plant — Su-30CM multifunctional fighters and Yak-130 combat training aircraft.
In addition, Belarus may become one of the first foreign operators of the newest MC-21 airliner, which is currently undergoing an import substitution programme and is being prepared for flight tests in the Russian configuration. 

The Irkutsk Aviation Plant       BELTA

Russia’s MC-21 is a family of medium-haul passenger aircraft created by Rostec enterprises. MC-21-300 is a basic modification of the airliner with a capacity of 160–211 seats equipped with American engines, which made its first test flight in 2017. MC-21-310 is an import-substituted version of the MC-21-300 fitted with Russian-made PD-14 engines. Commercial supplies of the airliners are expected to begin in 2025-2026. The first recipient will be the Aeroflot Group. 
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Yury Slyusar, General Director of the United Aircraft Corporation (UAC), has told Belarusian journalists that production volumes are constantly growing, which requires additional production capabilities, “We have previously co-operated with Belarusian enterprises, and have repeatedly visited the plant in Baranovichi [558 Aircraft Repair Plant — Editor’s note], the Minsk Civil Aviation Plant No. 407, the plant in Orsha [Orsha Aircraft Repair Plant — Editor’s note]. We really like these plants, we like the people working there. Throughout the post-Soviet period, these plants have continued to operate, having preserved the production aviation culture. Therefore, they are absolutely ready to expand collaboration.”  
According to Yury Slyusar, the priority is placed on civil aviation. Russian partners are ready to place orders at Belarusian aviation enterprises for the amount of ₽3-5 billion annually. Technological and economic calculations have shown that all of this is feasible. “As Aleksandr Grigorievich [Lukashenko] has said, it is necessary to show the will and implement this project, to pass the point of no return. We have signed contracts. We are already co-operating — we are making nomenclature for a number of models, we need to scale it up,” the UAC CEO concluded.
As for the supplies of MC-21 passenger aircraft and fully Russian-made medium-haul MC-21-310 passenger aircraft for the Belarusian fleet, such prospects definitely exist. Yury Slyusar has pointed out that due to the withdrawal of foreign Boeing and Embraer from the Russian market, the needs of Russian airlines will have to be closed first, yet Belarusian partners are also a priority. “Of course, we will not leave the fraternal people without airplanes… A fully Russian aircraft [MC-21-310 — Editor’s note] provides the possibility of complete import independence and the absence of influence from world manufacturers, in terms of on what aircraft and where we can fly.”  
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Dmitry Krutoi, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Belarus to the Russian Federation, 
“The President of Belarus had a very busy programme. Over the past two years, we have been developing co-operation very intensively and have returned to the pre-COVID level. However, the President has stated that the level of trade turnover should be increased by 2-3 times.”

Logistics

There has been considered a possibility of opening a wholesale and distribution logistics hub for Belarusian goods in Irkutsk Region, to ensure not only sales in the region but also export to China. Since the Brest Regional Executive Committee is assigned to this Russia’s region, the President has set the task to explore the possibility of creating a Brest hub there. Based on the example of Brest, Belarus will implement this project in a pilot mode. 

Industry

All leading Belarusian enterprises continue to successfully liaise with Irkutsk Region. BELAZ [Belarusian Automobile Plant’s brand] is planning to deliver twice as much machinery to the region this year. MAZ [Minsk Automobile Plant’s brand] is actively present on the region’s market. Gomselmash [Belarusian manufacturer of agricultural machinery based in Gomel] has signed a five-year programme for the supply of combine harvesters. The first deliveries of AMKODOR machinery are also about to kick off. 

Machine tool construction

Representatives of the largest machine building companies of Irkutsk Region travelled throughout Belarus in March 2024. The task of Belarusian manufacturers, which has been confirmed by the President during his visit, is to keep machine tool builders fully occupied at the first stage until 2030 and further until 2040, based on specific regional industries and large investment projects.

Aircraft industry

A lot has been done in a year. Two enterprises are actively co-operating with the Irkutsk Aviation Plant, and there are promising preliminary programmes for parts and components. The President has demanded to involve Horizont and Integral plants in this process — on micro- and radio electronics.  

Agro-industrial complex

Two basic topics that have been discussed at the level of the President encompass seed production, where Irkutsk Region intends to significantly increase the share of elite seeds, and dairy farming in terms of increasing the number of dairy cows. Belarusian companies are already engaged in the supply of equipment and the design of dairy complexes. Supplies of veterinary medicines, amino acids and premixes from Belarus have also been discussed.

Housing and communal services 

Belarusian manufacturers are involved in four pilot projects in this field. There are plans to build four municipal solid waste recycling plants, where Belarus is also ready to participate. In addition, Belarus takes an active part in the elevator replacement programme in Irkutsk.

Based on materials of sb.by and belta.by