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Belarus interested in expanding cooperation with Latvia

MINSK (BelTA) – Belarus invites Latvia to expand cooperation, Belarus Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko said as he met with Latvia's Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins in Minsk on 16 January, BelTA has learned.

Aleksandr Lukashenko emphasized that the two countries had had very strong economic ties since Soviet times. However, a lot has been lost in recent years. “I am really happy to welcome you and your colleagues in Minsk. I really hope that Minsk is not a stranger city for you, just like the capital of friendly Latvia is not a stranger city for us. No matter where we are, no matter what we or other people say, we used to be part of a once big country in the past. We used to have close, even friendly relations. Our economic ties were very strong,” he said. “A lot has been lost in recent years. But it is more important to look forward rather than to reflect on the past. In this regard, Belarus and Latvia have determined many avenues for cooperation,” he said.

“In contrast to other Baltic states, the backdrop of cooperation between our countries is very good. I assume that we should use this moment to bolster our cooperation. Moreover, it can be very beneficial for the economies of Belarus and Latvia,” Aleksandr Lukashenko emphasized.

The head of state remarked that the Belarusian side was making serious preparations for his visit to Latvia. “Thank you and your colleagues for the invitation to visit this friendly country. I believe that your visit to Minsk can be viewed as a serious step towards the preparation of agreements which can be ultimately approved during my visit to Riga,” the Belarusian leader noted.

On the whole, the president said that he was ready to answer any questions and invited the prime minister to discuss all topics of interest in an open and honest way. “We need to discuss all issues in order to establish open, honest and sincere cooperation with each other. If we succeed now, in the future we will not start to reproach each other and overcome barriers which we can create if we do not come to agreement, if we do not discuss certain issues today,” the Belarusian leader said.

In 2018, the Belarusian-Latvian trade turnover went up almost 33% from the level of 2017 to $582.7 million. Belarus' export reached $485.6 million, import made up $97.1 million. In January-November 2019, the trade turnover exceeded $460 million, export totaled $377.5 million.

The export of services reached $188.2 million in 2018. It was $136.6 million in January-October 2019.

In 2018, Latvian investments to the Belarusian economy made up $107.5 million, including $82.1 million worth of direct investments. In January-September 2019, Latvia invested $68 million, including $53.6 million worth of direct investments.

There are 585 enterprises with the Latvian capital specializing in trade, provision of services, wood processing, pharmaceutics on the territory of Belarus. The two countries have a bilateral intergovernmental commission for economic and sci-tech cooperation, a business cooperation council, a mixed commission for international automobile transportation, a transport working group.