MINSK, 21 February (BelTA) – Belarus remains greatly interested in direct contacts with Russian regions, Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko said as he met with Governor of Arkhangelsk Oblast of Russia Igor Orlov on 21 February, BelTA has learned.
“We remain deeply interested in direct contacts with Russian regions. You are a close person for us. We live in the north. We have a lot of tasks to address,” the head of state said. In his words, Belarus produces a lot of industrial goods and consumer products to trade with the Russian region.
According to the president, the construction sector is one of the areas where there are prospects for increasing interaction. “If you ask us to develop a turnkey residential district, design, conduct research and build as we usually do in Russian provinces, we are ready to show what we can. If you like it, you can use our specialists,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said. He also stressed the possibility to equip houses in Arkhangelsk Oblast with modern Belarusian elevators. “We have significantly modernized our factories manufacturing elevator equipment and can make elevators for the cosmodrome, planes, helicopters and residential buildings,” the head of state added.
Belarus also has rich experience in mechanical engineering from cargo transportation to logging. “We have developed virtually an entire lineup of forestry equipment. We have adopted a lot of foreign practices. The parts we still cannot make we buy from Europe,” the president said.
Aleksandr Lukashenko expressed Belarus' readiness to share its experience in agricultural development with Arkhangelsk Oblast. “You and we are in the zone of risky agriculture. We can help you in cattle breeding and vegetable growing, equipment of dairy farms and greenhouses,” he said. The head of state cited an example of effective cooperation with Egypt, where Belarus is building and equipping greenhouses. “We agreed [during Aleksandr Lukashenko's recent visit to Egypt] to build more greenhouses there, because they can grow products we do not have in winter and sell them to us, for example, strawberries,” the Belarusian leader said.
According to him, an efficient greenhouse development policy enables Belarus to grow vegetables, which are competitive, including on the Russian market. “Although natural gas prices are almost twice as high for us, and oil prices are 50% higher for us than in Russia, we remain competitors on your vegetable market,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
The head of state emphasized the high quality of Belarusian food products that are supplied to various regions of the world. “We trade not only with Russia, but also with the European Union, and China,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said. “Therefore, we need to ask Dankvert [Sergei Dankvert, the head of Rosselkhoznadzor] to stop putting obstacles for us. Otherwise, we will simply leave Russia for the Chinese market,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
Aleksandr Lukashenko suggested setting up joint ventures to develop peat deposits in Arkhangelsk Oblast.
“I assure you that all the things you have agreed upon here will be implemented. We are very responsible people. We get revenue from it. Of course, it is not the revenue that Russia gets from oil and natural gas. The entire Belarus lives from it. Working with you is not a charity. It is our life, our work from which we make at least small profit,” the Belarusian president told the Russian governor.
In turn, Igor Orlov thanked the head of state for the opportunity to visit Belarus. He called his visit “the one filled with practical things and solutions”. “I have once again seen that our cooperation is poised for success at all the levels. I have no doubts about it. The level of relations, the closeness of human and historical values are unprecedented,” he stressed.
In 2019, Belarus-Arkhangelsk Oblast trade totaled $45.8 million. Belarus' exports to the Russian region reached $22.9 million. The imports made up the same. Belarus' main exports included beef and poultry, concrete, cement and artificial stone products, sugar, vehicles, spare parts and other goods. Belarus purchased paper, cardboard, ferrous scrap, wood pulp and wool from Arkhangelsk Oblast.