MINSK, 7 December (BelTA) – There is an opportunity to restore the pre-crisis level of trade with Bashkortostan, Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko said as he met with Head of the Republic of Bashkortostan of the Russian Federation Radiy Khabirov on 7 December, BelTA has learned.
The president remarked that he is very happy to welcome such a representative delegation from the Russian region in Belarus. “I am very happy because trips and contacts have been limited due to the pandemic in the world. However, you took a risk to come to the center of Europe, and you can see that the situation is normal and stable here,” the Belarusian leader said. He also said that the region and its population have many similarities with Belarus and Belarusian people. “This [Bashkortostan] is a close land for us,” the head of state added. He stressed that Belarus has a pragmatic interest in this region of Russia because of the significant volume of bilateral trade.
“The visit of such a representative delegation in this complicated time is very important for us. “Our main objective is obvious and attainable. We want to restore the pre-crisis level of trade as soon as possible,” the president noted.
In his words, in January-September 2021 the bilateral trade shrank by 16% from the same period of the previous year to $280 million. “The Belarusian export to the region went up 6%, but we still have a trade deficit of $60 million. Therefore, we need to step up efforts. We hope that your visit will help restore the level of bilateral trade between Belarus and Bashkortostan,” the head of state is convinced.
Aleksandr Lukashenko believes that the reduction in the bilateral trade was caused not only by the pandemic and related restrictions. “Our relations have stood a test of decades, and neither coronavirus nor western sanctions should be able to destroy our relations. They will not be destroyed. Your visit to our country is a testimony to that,” the Belarusian leader stressed.
The president invited Radiy Khabirov to discuss the reserves that can be used to promote cooperation in trade and to determine short-term priorities. “I do not think that we need to discuss any politics, it is the same here and in your region. I do not think that there are any differences,” the head of state added.
Addressing the head of the Republic of Bashkortostan, Aleksandr Lukashenko suggested replacing its motto “We Can Do Better!” by “Together We Can Do Better, We Can Do More!”
“The goal is quite obvious. We need to restore our bilateral trade to the level of $700 million [like in 2018]. I am convinced that if we do our best, our bilateral trade can reach even $1 billion. We are prepared for it,” the president emphasized.
Taking into account the resource basis of Bashkortostan and the industrial potential of Belarus, it is essential to pay special attention to the development of cooperation in machine-building. Belarus can offer cutting-edge automobile, agricultural, road construction, and municipal equipment of leading Belarusian enterprises such as MAZ, MTZ, Gomselmash, Amkodor, BelAZ, elevators of Mogilevliftmash.
“We are always ready to share our best practices and technologies in all industries. We have never had and will never have any secrets from you,” the president assured. “Our projects have already showed their efficiency and are the foundation for the growth of the Belarusian agrarian sector.”
According to the head of state, there are good prospects for ramping up food supplies from Belarus. These products sell well in Russia's Bashkortostan. Belarusian specialists are ready to participate in projects to build schools, kindergartens, multi-purpose cultural and sports facilities. The construction of social facilities can be of special interest.
“Belarus can also offer modern technologies for water treatment, water conditioning and water disposal, equipment and technologies for the full-cycle processing of municipal solid wastes. I know that this is a big problem in Russia and in your region. We have maintained successful cooperation with other Russian regions in this field,” Aleksandr Lukashenko continued. Apart from that, the sides should not forget about cooperation in the humanitarian and information fields, education, science and culture.
“I am convinced that our relations are not limited to the areas that I have enumerated. I think that during your visit to Belarus, to any enterprises (if you are interested), new cooperation venues will emerge,” the head of state stressed.
The bilateral trade with Bashkortostan made up almost $427 million last year. In January-September 2021, it reached $280.5 million. Belarus' export totaled $128 million in 2020 and $111 in January-September 2021. The highest level of bilateral trade was reached in 2018 and made up $734.8 million.
Major Belarusian exports to Bashkortostan are refrigerators, freezers and refrigerating machinery, plastic sheets and films, specific goods, cheese and quark. In January-September 2021, there was a significant increase in the export of wood-fiber boards (up almost 14 times as against the level of the previous year), remote control devices, tables and panels for electrical equipment (up 10 times).
There are assembly facilities for MTZ tractors, Gomselmash and Lidselmash harvesters, Bobruiskagromash equipment, MAZ trolleybuses and SKD kits, 14 enterprises with the participation of the Belarusian capital in Bashkortostan.