President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Lukashenko, colleagues,
The meeting of the Russia-Belarus Union State Supreme State Council was business-like and substantial, covering in detail a broad scale of issues pertaining to Russian-Belarusian cooperation.
We gave priority attention to economic cooperation. Russia accounts for almost half of Belarus’ trade turnover. In its turn, Belarus ranks first (34%) in Russia’s trade with the CIS states and fifth (5%) in trade with other world nations. These are very good figures.
“Priorities of the development of the Union State remain unchanged: to increase the efficiency of trade and economic cooperation, to cooperate in production, to create a joint system of transportation and a common labour market.”
Unfortunately, in January-September of this year mutual trade turnover has fallen by 11%. However, the situation is gradually improving. In the third quarter, trade has grown by 3%, and we hope that by the end of the year we will reach a high overall figure.
We intend to be more active and persistent in our work to improve the structure of our mutual trade and enhance the share of goods with high added value.
We already see some positive trends here. Thus in the first six months of the year deliveries of Russian engineering products have gone up by 4%, chemical industry products – by 3%. Import from Belarus to Russia is developing similarly. Trade in services has increased by 15%. We absolutely need to consolidate all these trends.
We have agreed to encourage mutual investment more actively. Russia’s overall capital investment in Belarus economy has exceeded $5.5 billion, a large part of this amount representing direct investment, as I mentioned earlier.
A good example of our joint high-tech projects is the Belarus nuclear power plant, which entered its main construction stage in November. I would like to remind you that Russia’s total financial participation in the project amounts to $10 billion. We plant to commission the plant’s first unit in the summer of 2018, the second – in 2020.
“We will jointly celebrate the 70th anniversary of Belarus’ liberation from Nazi invaders and the 70th anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic War. A relevant Plan of anniversary events within the Union State for 2014–2015 has been approved.”
Cooperation between individual regions of our nations is a key factor of our strong economic ties. Thus, trade turnover between the border regions of Belarus and Smolensk region has tripled in the first six months of the year to reach almost $3 billion.
The establishment of the Russia-Belarus interregional forum will give an extra impetus to such contacts. The forum’s first session is scheduled for February 2014.
Economic cooperation between our nations cannot be viewed separately from the Eurasian integration process in general. We analysed our main targets on this path yesterday at the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council meeting.
In the course of our negotiations, we discussed the main directions for the development of the Union State. Our priorities here remain unchanged: to increase the efficiency of trade and economic cooperation, to cooperate in production, to create a joint system of transportation and a common labour market.
The budget we approved for 2014 is based on these very targets. Its overall amount remains high: almost $5 billion and around 40% of this total amount will be spent to support promising economic projects.
“The Government of the Russian Federation made the decision to assist our colleagues, given the situation in the global markets, and offer the Republic of Belarus a loan of up to $2 billion in 2014.”
I would also like to inform you that in the course of today’s meeting the Government of the Russian Federation made the decision to assist our colleagues, given the situation in the global markets, and offer the Republic of Belarus a loan of up to $2 billion in 2014.
Traditionally we attach great importance to cooperation in the humanitarian sphere. We will jointly celebrate the 70th anniversary of Belarus’ liberation from Nazi invaders and the 70th anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic War. A relevant Plan of anniversary events within the Union State for 2014–2015 has been approved.
In conclusion, I would like to thank Mr Lukashenko and all our Belarusian friends for today’s constructive meeting. I am certain that we will successfully meet all the targets we have set ourselves.