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29 October 2018, 14:20

Belarus expects trade with China to reach $3.5bn in 2018

MINSK, 29 October (BelTA-Xinhua) – Belarus-China trade is expected to exceed $3.5 billion by the end of 2018. Belarusian Economy Minister Dmitry Krutoi made the statement in an interview with the Chinese news agency Xinhua, BelTA has learned.

The economy minister remarked that in January-August 2018 Belarus-China trade totaled $2.3 billion.

Dmitry Krutoi described China as a reliable partner of Belarus. “We work hard to jointly advance projects and initiatives outlined by our heads of state, which testifies to the quality content on our trade and economic cooperation,” he said.

According to the source, China is in Belarus' top three trade partners after Russia and Ukraine. Belarus-China trade has been close to $3 billion on the average for the last few years.

Investment cooperation between Beijing and Minsk advances, too. Chinese investments in the Belarusian economy have exceeded $1.9 billion in the last ten years. Ten years ago the investments tended to be debts. In 2017 direct investments accounted for over 40%. In H1 2018 China became the third donor of foreign direct investments in the Belarusian economy in net terms, said Dmitry Krutoi. He stressed that the China-Belarus industrial park Great Stone as the largest joint project is getting more and more prominence among investors.

Dmitry Krutoi stressed that the connection of long-term social and economic development programs is particularly important for the two countries in the strategic sense. He reminded that the need to coordinate strategic plans was mentioned during a bilateral top-level meeting in May 2017. A joint action plan has been approved by the sides and the main avenues of cooperation have been determined.

Dmitry Krutoi said that active work to increase the volume of Belarusian export to China is in progress. The Belarusian government works hard for it. “Together with Chinese partners we are working to remove technical and sanitary barriers in trade, to find new niches on the Chinese market, to find new logistics schemes, and so on,” explained the Belarusian economy minister.

In his opinion, it is also necessary to bear in mind that expensive machines and equipment represent the bulk of Chinese imports to Belarus (about 40%). “They represent the foundation of our future export-oriented major enterprises, which will soon allow increasing Belarus' export potential,” noted the official.

Talking about competitive Belarusian exports to China, Dmitry Krutoi mentioned fertilizers, milk and meat products, vegetables, furniture, carpets and textile products, railway locomotives, and some other commodities. He also said that only three kinds of merchandise out of Belarus' top ten exports for China were sold in 2017. “Potash fertilizers represented the lion's share of our export to China in 2017 – about 75%. It means our export to China is highly concentrated as far as specific products are concerned. In other words, not all the opportunities for diversifying Belarusian merchandise export to China have been explored,” stated Dmitry Krutoi.

Speaking about the Belt and Road initiative, Dmitry Krutoi mentioned that due to its geographic location Belarus is destined to become a nodal platform for implementing the initiative in the Eurasian region. Belarus is destined to become an important transport, logistics, information, and communication link. “Our country already cooperates with China in the construction of a number of infrastructure facilities in Belarus,” said Dmitry Krutoi. He noted that the China-Belarus industrial park Great Stone is the key peculiarity and advantage of the bilateral relations. In his words, the industrial park is a global strategic project, which is designed to become international. The sides are hard at work to make it happen.

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