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01 April 2024, 11:23

Lukashenko sees potential for reaching $500m in trade with Russia’s Orel Oblast

MINSK, 1 April (BelTA) – There is every opportunity to increase trade with Russia’s Orel Oblast to $500 million in the coming years, Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko said as he met with Orel Oblast Governor Andrei Klychkov on 1 April, BelTA has learned.

The head of state warmly welcomed the head of the Russian region in Belarus, noting that this was his first visit to the country. The president expressed hope for closer cooperation given the geographical proximity. If necessary, logistical opportunities will be found for this purpose.

The president recalled that in early March the Belarusian government appointed Brest Oblast Governor Yuri Shuleiko responsible for cooperation with Russia’s Orel Oblast. He is an active, highly-efficient person who is able to do a lot for the development of interaction with the Russian region. “I am convinced that you will quickly find common ground,” the head of state said.

The Orel Oblast delegation's visit to Belarus envisages meetings at the government level, tours around major domestic enterprises, and an exchange of experience in regional development. Aleksandr Lukashenko emphasized that there were no closed topics in relations with the Russian region, and that Belarus was ready to provide its products and was open for closer cooperation. Given the development level of Orel Oblast, Belarus is also ready to adopt the best practices in certain industries. The parties have already signed a plan of measures for 2024-2026 to implement the Agreement on Cooperation between the Government of Orel Oblast and the Gomel Oblast Executive Committee. “I am confident that your visit will result in concrete joint projects,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

Complicated circumstances and readiness to help

At the same time, the president drew attention to a complex situation in Russia's Orel Oblast: “You will not be allowed to live and work in peace in the near future. You have to solve the tasks of protecting civilians and critical infrastructure in extremely difficult conditions. If we can help you in this regard, please contact us, we will be happy to lend our helping hand,” the Belarusian leader emphasized.

Aleksandr Lukashenko said that despite the situation, Orel Oblast, like other regions of Russia, held the successful presidential election, and the country demonstrated stability, political and economic independence.

Mutual trade potential

Speaking about trade and economic cooperation, the Belarusian head of state suggested taking the mutual trade of 2023 as a reference point. Last year it was $250 million. “I think we can reach $500 million in the near future, within the next three years. This is quite achievable. Although we will have to work hard,” the president said.

According to him, major drivers of growth can be traditionally strong economic sectors of Orel Oblast, such as agriculture, microelectronics, and the investment sector. In his words, both parties boast a high level of development in all these areas, so alignment is possible and everything should be done to get the best effect.

Unmanned harvesters and other machinery

Aleksandr Lukashenko dwelled on the areas where Belarus was ready to offer cooperation. One of them is machine building. Based on the wishes and goals of the delegation from Orel Oblast, it should be interested in AMKODOR utility, construction, road-building and forestry machinery, as well as Gomselmash harvesters of various modifications. “The production of unmanned harvesters Titan has been recently launched in Tambov Oblast in cooperation with Gomselmash. This is a promising area. Please, pay attention to it,” the president said.

The head of state also suggested thinking about launching specialized training classes with Belarusian machinery at the Stolypin agricultural gymnasium in Orel.

Test drive for Belarusian trolleybuses and trams

The president named supplies of passenger transportation as another area of potential interest for Belarus. The Belarusian manufacturing sector regularly increases the output of such products. The lineup includes environmentally friendly electric buses, trolleybuses, trams, including low-floor vehicles for passengers with limited mobility. “All Belarusian products have high performance characteristics,” Aleksandr Lukashenko emphasized. In this regard, the president mentioned the implementation of a highly promising pilot project to switch the public transport in Zhodino and Shklov district to the electric one. “This is the future,” the head of state said. He also suggested organizing a test drive of several units of Belarusian autonomous trolleybuses and trams in Orel for Russian specialists and residents to assess their capabilities.

Cooperation in microelectronics

Microelectronics is another area that was discussed at the meeting and which, according to Aleksandr Lukashenko, often becomes the topic of his talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Addressing Andrei Klychkov, the Belarusian president said: “You did well by preserving your enterprises, the same as we did in Belarus. You know our Integral and Planar enterprises. Given the import substitution tasks, we will have to expand cooperation. I would like to hear your thoughts on this issue.”

Mutual interest in agriculture

As for agriculture and food products, Orel Oblast is leading in the production of buckwheat, rapeseed, sugar beet, as well as in the yield of oilseeds, cereals and leguminous crops. “This is exactly what we need. We need to cooperate with our kin nation, not with the French or Germans,” the head of state emphasized. In turn, Belarus is ready to share elite seeds, high-yielding varieties of crops. There is also a possibility of supplying veterinary drugs. The president also mentioned the Belarusian National Biotechnology Corporation - a unique project to produce fodder, amino acids and premixes. The country has developed highly productive technologies in breeding, poultry farming, dairy production and many other sectors, which Belarus is ready to share with Russia.

A landmark facility and capabilities of Belarusian builders

Belarusian specialists have already demonstrated their capabilities in the construction sector. Several years ago a new school was built in the town of Livny, Orel Oblast. The region was satisfied with the work of Belarusian builders. Belarusians have also built significant socially-oriented facilities and modern multi-storey residential buildings in the areas close to Orel Oblast.

“We build fast and ensure high quality. Most importantly, we can easily win the competition with Russian builders in terms of price,” the president said.

Aleksandr Lukashenko added that Belarusian specialists could build a landmark facility in Orel Oblast and do it on a turnkey basis, starting from the design and finishing with the commissioning of the facility. The region has ten sites for comprehensive development and suitable for housing construction. “I think it makes sense to involve Belarusian builders in these projects,” the head of state said. “We will definitely build high-quality facilities.”

Belarus' competencies extend not only to construction but also to major repairs, design and engineering surveys, supply of modern building materials and elevators, assistance in the development of gas supply systems in regions and much more. The country is also ready to offer services in these areas to the Russian region.

The president stressed that he only outlined the key areas. If the Orel Oblast representatives find any other areas, Belarus is ready to coordinate them and work together. “The distances are small, we know the way to Orel Oblast very well. It is very close. We can work with you more intensively and effectively and show other regions what small Belarus can do for the huge Russia. We are ready for this. With your support, we will definitely implement all the plans we have outlined,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
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