ZHITOMIR, 4 October (BelTA) – During the 2nd Forum of Regions of Belarus and Ukraine in Zhitomir on 4 October Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko named priorities of cooperation between the two countries, BelTA has learned.
“Naturally, Ukraine is one of Belarus' key trading partners. In 2018 alone our trade grew by nearly 20%, however there is still room for growth. The common history and neighborhood have predetermined cooperation priorities, including in economy. Those are primarily fuel and energy sector, agribusiness, manufacturing cooperation, transport, and logistics,” the Belarusian head of state said.
Belarus is ready to negotiate shipping more oil products to Ukrainian companies. Aleksandr Lukashenko believes that it is necessary to support joint projects in this field in the future. “We don't hide the fact that we are now looking for alternative ways to import hydrocarbon raw materials from international markets. Most of the negotiations were dedicated to this matter. We've agreed that instead of simply looking into options we are going to act. It is only natural and is not designed to harm interests of some other countries. We need to do it. The current security of the two countries depends on it if you want,” Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed.
According to Aleksandr Lukashenko, the open Ukrainian electricity market creates serious prerequisites for mutually beneficial cooperation. The Belarusian side has already signed several commercial contracts to sell electricity to Ukraine. “Once the Belarusian nuclear power plant is commissioned in 2020, we will be very interested in the work experience of the Ukrainian nuclear energy industry,” he stated.
Aleksandr Lukashenko sees great prospects in mechanical engineering industry and the joint development of transport routes. “The geographical location of our countries opens good opportunities for logistics industry. Ukraine's and Belarus' transit appeal can be enhanced by navigation along the Dnieper River, along the Pripyat River, and its integration into the international water way E40,” the Belarusian head of state pointed out.
Aleksandr Lukashenko remarked that trade is a two-way road. In turn, Belarus imports Ukrainian metal, agricultural products, foods, forage additives, medications, and many other things.
“The multibillion trade turnover between the two countries stems from the regional level. This is why we pay close attention to the development of interregional contacts,” the Belarusian leader explained. He reminded that MTZ tractors and Gomselmash harvesters are now assembled in the Ukrainian cities of Nikolayev and Nezhin, Belkommunmash trolleybuses and MAZ vehicles are assembled in Lutsk and Dnepr, Mogilevliftmash lifts – in Vyshgorod, MAZ automobiles – in Cherkassy. A major transportation and logistics hub of the Belarusian group Santa operates in Kiev Oblast. According to Aleksandr Lukashenko, multiple other examples of genuine economic cooperation involving the regions can be cited.
During the negotiations the two heads of state confirmed their interest in setting up joint manufacturing enterprises. “The sphere of interests is huge,” Aleksandr Lukashenko remarked. “We invite our Ukrainian friends and brothers to jointly make the machines and vehicles we've been making for a long time, including in one country. We created those enterprises together with you. All the republics of the Soviet Union made a contribution to the establishment of the aircraft engineering industry in Ukraine and the tractor engineering industry and the mechanical engineering industry in Belarus. Let's open those joint ventures today.”
Aleksandr Lukashenko mentioned missile engineering as an example. Close attention is paid in Belarus to this branch of the defense industry today. “You have ample experience. You can help us. We will accomplish the relevant program within 1.5-2 years instead of five. And we will bring products, goods, and technologies you've never developed but need so much to you.” According to Aleksandr Lukashenko, if Belarus and Ukraine can create a world-level product, more investments will be poured into the countries and the two countries will be able to help other ones, too.
“The dialogue platform of the forum has proved its effectiveness. We see that regions of Belarus and Ukraine make a tangible contribution to efforts to increase trade,” Aleksandr Lukashenko stated. It may be advisable to hold the forum every year instead of every two years, the president remarked. The Ukrainian side backed the idea. The sides agreed to discuss the matter and make the relevant decision.