MINSK, 16 January (BelTA) - It is important for Latvia to see Belarus independent and stable, Latvian Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins said as he met with Belarusian leader Aleksandr Lukashenko in Minsk on 16 January, BelTA has learned.
Krisjanis Karins started in Russian saying it is easier for him to comprehend it than speak it and therefore he has to switch to English “so as not to say anything wrong.” “Do you think I'd understand you better in English than Russian?” Aleksandr Lukashenko joked back. "For you to practice your Russian, our language, you should visit us more often.”
Krisjanis Karins noted that Latvia is interested in developing good relations with Belarus. “It is important for us to see an independent, stable and prosperous Belarus," the prime minister said. He touched on the preparations for Aleksandr Lukashenko's visit to Latvia, adding that Riga is expecting him on 3 April if this date is convenient for the Belarusian side.
The prime minister added that Latvia has recently amended the port management regulations, and now the ports are fully under the control of the government. “We are open to business," he said.
During the meeting, the parties also discussed the preparations for the 2021 World Championship which will be co-hosted by Minsk and Riga. Krisjanis Karins said that everything is going according to plan on the Latvian side. “We are very excited about the opportunity to co-host the IIHF World Championship with you," he said. “What is especially pleasant: Belarus and Latvia teams are in different groups. So there is a chance they meet in Minsk at the end of the championship”.
“God forbid,” Aleksandr Lukashenko joked and explained that the Belarus ice hockey team has had a lot of trouble at the hands of Latvia, so they would be wary of playing against them in Minsk during the championship.
Krisjanis Karins noted that Latvia is interested in developing good relations with Belarus. “It is important for us to see Belarus independent, stable and prosperous," the prime minister said.
In 2018, the Belarusian-Latvian trade went up almost 33% from to total $582.7 million. Belarus' export reached $485.6 million, import made up $97.1 million. In January-November 2019, the trade exceeded $460 million, export totaled $377.5 million.
The export of services reached $188.2 million in 2018. It was $136.6 million in January-October 2019.
In 2018, Belarus raised $107.5 million in Latvian investments, including $82.1 million in direct investments. In January-September 2019, Latvia invested $68 million, including $53.6 million of direct investments.
Belarus is home to 585 enterprises with Latvian participation specializing in trade, services, wood processing, pharmaceutics. The two countries operate a bilateral intergovernmental commission for cooperation in economy and science, a business cooperation council, a mixed commission for international automobile transportation, a transport working group.