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22 May 2023, 12:43

Belarus to step up cooperation with Russia's Urals, Siberia and Far East regions

MINSK, 22 May (BelTA) – Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko has set the task of stepping up cooperation with the Urals, Siberia and the Far East of Russia, Belarusian Ambassador to Russia Dmitry Krutoi told the media following the meeting with the head of state in Minsk on 22 May, BelTA has learned.

"The president made a special emphasis on the Far East. Belarus will soon host Governor of Primorsky Territory Krai Oleg Kozhemyako. The president noted that the eight Far Eastern regions with which Belarus maintains trade and economic relations contribute only $115 million to the total trade with Russia, which is very little,” the ambassador said. “We are aware of logistics, proximity to China and so on. But the demand is huge. The governors who come to Minsk ask for our goods. The matter is only about logistics, routes and financial instruments that we can offer them. From vehicles to construction services."

"Therefore, the president has set an ambitious task to increase the export of Belarusian products to the Far East by two to three times. He said that we should definitely visit there by the end of the year, either within the framework of the Far Eastern Economic Forum or as part of a separate visit. The Urals, Siberia are number two and number three points so to say which the president has designated. Judging by the information agenda and the visits of Russian governors, we can work more actively there. The president's suggested we ‘stop trading across the fence.' It is clear that Smolensk, Bryansk and Pskov are our immediate neighbors. We will host the governor of Kaliningrad soon. But we must go further. The attitude towards us there is as warm," Ambassador Dmitry Krutoi noted.

Summing up the meeting, Ambassador Dmitry Krutoi noted that despite the growing Belarusian exports to Russia and the trade surplus, there are a number of issues to be resolved. "For the president, the number one topic is the protection of the market and the commodities, with which we still have problems. Therefore, today the president asked for a very detailed report on specific goods. We have the top- 75 list. We hold monthly monitoring meetings with our colleagues, with all ministers. We have quite a few new positions on this list. The president was interested in the situation in terms of these new commodities," the ambassador said.

According to him, food generated $6 billion of the total $23 billion Belarusian exports to Russia. The remaining $17 billion comes from manufactured goods. "It is often understood that these are the products made by the flagships of the Industry Ministry. We somehow overlook other types of economic activity and other ministries," Ambassador Dmitry Krutoi said.

Aleksandr Lukashenko is confident that there is a large window of opportunity for the domestic light industry. "Indeed, our light industry has seriously increased its foothold in Russia. Today it is facing tough competition from domestic or eastern brands which are replacing Western ones. It is also struggling with building a sales strategy," the ambassador agreed.

Ambassador Dmitry Krutoi said that the showrooms of Belarusian light industry have proved their worth. They sell everything: from linen products to clothes and footwear. However, there are not yet many such facilities on the territory of the Russian Federation. They have shown that the demand is enormous. It turns out that Russians value not only Belarusian food but also light industry goods, cosmetics. We are yet to hone up our skills of healthy PR and marketing in the Russian market," the diplomat said.

Another area is woodworking, an industry that has come under Western sanctions. Belarus exports furniture and a number of other commodity items to Russia. The president believes there is still no clear concept for promoting timber products on the Russian market.

There is a similar situation in the chemical sectors. "Fibers, paints, varnishes, a lot of construction products... The president wants us to perform better in terms of this niche which was also vacated by Western companies," Ambassador Dmitry Krutoi said.

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