MINSK, 19 May (BelTA) – Belarus and Russia are going to step up efforts to substitute imports in the face of the sanctions pressure, Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko said as he met with Nizhny Novgorod Oblast Governor Gleb Nikitin, BelTA has learned.
The Belarusian president named import substitution as the number one task for the economies of the two countries. “We have had a very serious conversation with the president of Russia quite recently. We will meet again one of these days to revisit the issue. We already know what programs we need to implement, we have calculated how much money it will take,” the Belarusian leader said.
According to him, the manufacturing sectors of the two countries are capable of producing almost any product, but some industries need to improve product quality to match world-class standards. This will certainly take some time. “We will not drive Mercedes cars for a while. We will drive the cars that we have,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
The president noted that Russia recently announced its intention to produce Lada and Moskvitch cars. “What is wrong with it? They are a far cry from the Soviet-era Moskvitch cars, of course. Yet, maybe they are not as good as Mercedes cars. Yet, one day we will have our own Mercedes-class cars. One does not need that much time for this,” the head of state said. After all, local specialists have already gained experience of working with large foreign companies and learned a number of competencies from them.
At the same time, the withdrawal of Western car manufacturers from the market did not hurt Belarus as much as it did Russia. “Thank God, Belarus didn't invite foreign companies to come. And whenever we did, we sold a small package of shares to them while retaining control over assets. Therefore, I did not even notice anyone talking about any problems related to the departure of some companies. It is not the case here. We relied on ourselves. We did not rush to privatize everything everywhere,” the president explained. He believes that state-owned companies work more efficiently for the country and the people than private ones: “No matter who owns a company, he/she will always put profits first.”
“The economy is managed this way. I would like to emphasize once again: yes, we do need import substitution, but only across certain commodity types, not across entire industries, in order to compete in the markets of Russia, China, and other countries,” the Belarusian leader said.