MINSK, 1 June (BelTA) – Belarus' trade with Lipetsk Oblast of Russia is at $330 million. This is a good number but half a billion would be better, Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko said at a meeting with Governor of Lipetsk Oblast of Russia Igor Artamonov in Minsk on 1 June, BelTA has learned
The head of state warmly welcomed the delegation of the Russian region, noting that Igor Artamonov knows Belarus well, and that the parties have already created a good groundwork for further expansion of cooperation. "This is confirmed by the active ties with the Lipetsk region over the past two years and the economic statistics," the president said.
Bilateral trade over the past year totaled $330 million. "The figure is not bad, but half a billion is better. Therefore, our goal is to aim for $500 million in trade, I think we will reach this goal in the near future," the Belarusian leader is convinced. “There are enough reserves. Moreover, we are starting to reap the fruits of the momentous decisions within the framework of our union of Belarus and Russia." In this regard, Aleksandr Lukashenko recalled the many decisions that were made at the level of heads of state.
"Making momentous decisions, we supported our governments and ministers in the development of cooperation, primarily industrial cooperation," the Belarusian leader said.
The president drew attention to how much progress Russia has made in agriculture. This happened not without the help of Belarus. Today the agenda of mutual cooperation includes high-tech industries, primarily microelectronics.
"Western companies are gone (and good riddance). We will develop our own. You know that our former homeland - the Soviet Union – did well without the West. It's just that we were not smart enough and did not save the country. We did well then, we will do well now too," Aleksandr Lukashenko is convinced.
"The key things for our economy are technological sovereignty and industrial cooperation. Today we need to cooperate, which is what we are doing," the president continued.
Now other countries that were previously part of the Soviet Union are beginning to catch up with cooperation. "We are exploring new areas of cooperation. We not only develop specific programs, but also implement specific contracts to set up certain manufacturing capacities. Cooperation is gaining momentum; we have a huge positive experience. We have a good basis for further economic development," the head of state stressed.
As for cooperation with Lipetsk Oblast, it is growing by leaps and bounds. "I am convinced that our project at Lipetsk Tractor Plant where we want to set up a joint production of Amkodor vehicles can become a powerful starting point. This brand is well-known in Russia and is in great demand," the Belarusian leader said.
"The departure of Western companies has freed up space on the market for us. We can expand cooperation and step up joint work," the president said.
At the meeting, mention was made of the urban electric transport program launched in Lipetsk Oblast several years ago. "Sooner or later, any city in Belarus and Russia will face this problem. Because cities are becoming saturated, populated. Therefore, environmentally friendly vehicles will be needed in increasing volumes. We are ready to supply you with a full line-up of passenger and agricultural machines, trailers and attachments. This also applies to road vehicles," the head of state assured.
In agriculture, the president proposed to develop cooperation in the processing of farm products. He also considers cooperation in the modernization of grain drying facilities to be promising. "We are working in the Russian construction market," Aleksandr Lukashenko continued. “We are ready to build any facility, if necessary, as you can see for yourself having visited Minsk Arena.
The parties also talked about preparations for the Days of the Republic of Belarus in Lipetsk, which are scheduled for the autumn of this year. "We will bring all our best so to show the development of Belarus and also the results of our joint work," the head of state said.
He stressed that all the agreements reached during the visit will be fulfilled by Belarus: "You can be 100% sure that we will fulfill them. We are responsible people. This is not charity. This is our life, our economy. If the economy functions properly, then the country develops. Therefore, I am ready to discuss with you any questions that you put before me and make a decision."
Belarus' trade with Lipetsk Oblast of Russia has been steadily growing since 2020. In 2021, it amounted to $315 million. In 2022 it reached almost $334 million, with Belarusian exports up from $70 million in 2021 to more than $91 million last year, or by 31%. Belarus' major exports to the Russian region were refrigerators, freezers and refrigeration equipment, mixed mineral fertilizers, washing machines, meat products, rods made of non-alloy steel. Major imports were metallurgical products (various types of rolled steel), rapeseed, and mineral resins.
In January-March of this year, the trade amounted to $68 million, which as 2.5% higher than in the same period of last year. The growth of mutual trade was facilitated by the intensification of contacts with the leadership of Lipetsk Oblast. Since his appointment as governor in June 2022, Igor Artamonov has visited Belarus three times, and his current visit is the fourth in a row.