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24 June 2024, 11:20

Prospects for cooperation between Belarus, Leningrad Oblast of Russia outlined 

MINSK, 24 June (BelTA) - Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko met with Governor of Russia’s Leningrad Oblast Alexander Drozdenko in Minsk on 24 June, BelTA has learned.

"Our meetings have always been efficient. We implement everything we agree on, no matter how difficult it might be for us. This is the most important thing we are striving for," Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

Two years ago, the parties discussed the need to increase mutual trade to $1 billion. According to experts, the trade is expected to reach this milestone in 2024.

"I think we need to aim for $2 billion. We must establish flows, find options. Moreover, there will be a serious opportunity to increase trade. We have always had problems with cargo transportation. We have finally begun to restore railways, which in Soviet times were capable of handling 1,5 - 2 times more cargo. This year we will restore the railways and settle the problems with cargo transportation in the northern direction. Moreover, we have begun the construction of our own ports in your region and in Murmansk. We can't get there without you. Therefore, I think we can reach the $2 billion milestone in the next five years. Our main goal is to move forward together, building up industrial and scientific potential, and most importantly, to strengthen technological sovereignty," the president stressed.

According to him, the northern direction is key for Belarus: "We have big plans in this direction and will definitely implement them, with your help and support."   
"On the other hand, we have always maintained a vibrant dialogue with Leningrad Oblast. There are many new interesting projects and ideas. We branched out into many new avenues of cooperation in just a year," the head of state said.

Gas infrastructure development

Leningrad Oblast is planning to build new boiler houses running on natural gas. Aleksandr Lukashenko noted that Belarus is ready to join this large project. 

"We can supply the equipment and build boiler houses, lay main gas pipelines, connect them to households," he said.

Infrastructure development 

"As I have been informed, you, while building up the centralized management, are reforming the system of road maintenance and construction enterprises. We are at your disposal both in terms of equipment and experience," the president suggested. 
Investment projects 

Belarusian companies are also interested in taking part in large investment projects in Leningrad Oblast. This applies primarily to construction services and the supply of building materials. 

"Another example of our successful cooperation is the Vysotsky grain terminal in Vyborg District. The project is unique. You have completed the first phase. I have been briefed that it is to reach full capacity by the end of the year," Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

Just recently, negotiations were held with the Northern Construction Department, which acts as the general contractor for the construction of power units No. 3 and 4 of the Leningrad NPP-2. Belarusian specialists have already  working on the issue of supplying a wide range of building materials and other products, the president said. 

"I know that there is a demand for unique building competencies. We have them thanks to the cooperation with the Russian Federation. We will also work on this issue," the head of state promised.

Equipment supplies 
Aleksandr Lukashenko also recalled Belarus' capabilities to supply various types of engineering products.

"In the manufacturing industry, we will be able to replace the competencies of the Western partners that left the market. We will be happy to work with Leningrad Oblast. These are our kin people. Therefore, you can count on us," the president noted.

Alexander Drozdenko, in turn, said that every meeting with the Belarusian leader is a new impetus and new plans for development.

"Everything we talk about at these meetings is put into practice. Consistently, step by step," the governor emphasized.
As it has been noted, the parties were set to increase trade to $1 billion in 2023.

"We fell short of the target a little. The trade was almost $935 million. But in January-May, trade rose by more than 23%. This means that we will reach the milestone. We see the pace picking up. This is absolutely logical as we are continuously expanding the avenues of cooperation," Alexander Drozdenko said.
For example, Leningrad Oblast, like Belarus, has a strong agricultural sector and, accordingly, there is a need for equipment.

"By the way, we are one of the first regions that began to subsidize the purchase of Belarusian equipment from our budget. We subsidize 35% of tractors cost and 40% - grain harvester costs. Vegetable harvesters are subsidized by 50%. The conditions are the same, both for Russian suppliers and for Belarusian ones," the governor said.
He also noted changes in the equipment purchase structure. Last year Belarusian equipment accounted for 21% of the total purchases. In January-May this share rose to 33%.

"The conditions are normal and stable," the head of the region noted.  
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