MINSK, 2 December (BelTA) - Belarus intends to advance trade and economic ties with the regions of Russia, Belarusian Prime Minister Roman Golovchenko said during a meeting with the delegation of Russia's Astrakhan Oblast led by Governor Igor Babushkin in Minsk on 2 December, BelTA has learned.
"Direct ties with the Russian regions are part and parcel of foreign policy. We have long been working with Russian regions on the basis of direct agreements, action plans and cooperation programs. This long-term practice, of course, yields great results," Roman Golovchenko said.
The prime minister noted that the situation around Belarus is not easy. The country has recently been under unprecedented pressure from the collective West, unilateral illegitimate economic sanctions. "The purpose of this policy is extremely clear: to weaken the integration in the post-Soviet space, including through the weakening of countries friendly to Russia. It is in such a situation that we need to stick to the uncompromising position and to protect, defend our common economic interests, to advance trade, economic, cultural and humanitarian ties. This is the best response to such actions," he stressed.
According to Roman Golovchenko, Russia's Astrakhan Oblast is of great interest to Belarus. In January-September, the trade surged by almost 30%. "During today's visit, we will find the areas in our work that need to be filled with a new economic content," he said.
During the meeting, the parties are set to discuss cooperation in trade, economy and humanitarian affairs and to identify promising areas of cooperation, increasing supplies of machine-building products, including road-building and agricultural machines, expanding cooperation in the agricultural industry, promoting cooperation in the field of construction industry, participation of Belarusian enterprises in the regional and federal programs in Astrakhan Oblast.
During the visit, the parties are set to sign an action plan for 2022-2024 to the agreement between the government of Belarus and the government of Astrakhan Oblast on cooperation in trade, economy, science, technology, culture and humanitarian affairs.
In January-September 2021 Belarus' trade with Russia's Astrakhan Oblast totaled $23.1 million, nearly 29% up from January-September 2020. Belarus' merchandise export amounted to $4.7 million. Major exports included chipboards, household appliances, machines and devices for lifting, moving, loading and unloading, wool, and plastic construction parts. It is remarkable that shipments of uncoated paper and pasteboard soared by 11.7 times in comparison with January-September 2020.
Belarus imported from Astrakhan Oblast primarily sulfur, fish, peculiar goods, wool, tomatoes, caviar, melons and watermelons, and various vegetables. Merchandise import amounted to $18.4 million.
A dealership chain of Belarusian mechanical engineering enterprises operates in Astrakhan Oblast and sells products made by MAZ, MTZ, Gomselmash, Bobruiskagromash, and Amkodor. Work is in progress to set up an MTZ trade and maintenance center, which is to be commissioned in 2022.