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Lukashenko suggests advancing trade, economic cooperation with Poland

MINSK (BelTA) – There is a need to raise the bar in the trade and economic cooperation with Poland, Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko said as he met with Mateusz Morawiecki, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economic Development and Finance of Poland, on 24 October, BelTA has learned.

The head of state noted that Belarus and Poland have a certain trade level. “We have not lost contacts in the economy and politics. However, it is essential to raise the bar to a very high level. If we want to advance relations with our closest neighbor, we need to create the foundation of these relations. It is only the economy that can be this foundation,” the President said.

Alexander Lukashenko noted that the Belarusian side is interested in setting up joint ventures with Poland and is ready to provide necessary assistance.

At the same time, he said, there are a few issues of concern in the economic cooperation. “I think that during the session of the joint commission you will discuss them and outline the ways to eliminate them, to coordinate our positions,” Alexander Lukashenko said. “If we are wrong in certain aspects, we would like Poland and the EU in general to provide certain undeniable facts which would be difficult to defy. I mean the antidumping case and other issues.”

“You are a professional, and it makes to sense to explain to you all kinds of bickering that we see on the part of the two sides over customs procedures and mutual trade. Every state will always find a response to any sanctions. I am convinced that we do not need this,” the Belarusian leader remarked.

Alexander Lukashenko stated that the current situation also has an impact on the economy of Poland, especially in view of Russia's embargo and economic difficulties in neighboring countries, first of all, in Ukraine. “Therefore, it makes absolutely no sense to create new obstacles in the economy. We are prepared for the comprehensive development of relations with the country that is very close to us,” the head of state emphasized.

“Speaking about the current level of cooperation, the countries have begun to establish closer relations. I think that it will depend on your country and its position rather than on Belarus. You are aware of our willingness to improve relations not only with all our neighbors but also with Western Europe, the EU in general,” Alexander Lukashenko said.

Mateusz Morawiecki, for his part, agreed that the trade and economic cooperation is a good foundation for the development of cooperation in other fields. “Poland is the EU's gateway to the east. Belarus is the gateway of the EEU to the west. We can use this aspect together, including within the framework of the Silk Road initiative,” the Polish vice premier said.

He expressed readiness to discuss topical issues in the development of the economic cooperation and find necessary solutions. “At the today's meeting we have discussed Belarusian tractors and the export of Belarusian cement to Poland,” Mateusz Morawiecki said.

“Of course, we want this cooperation to be beneficial for the two sides. We are aware of transformation difficulties. We have been through it too. We understand perfectly well what way you need to go and what you need to do for it,” he added.

In January-August 2016, the Belarusian-Polish trade turnover went up 10.6% over the same period of the previous year to make up about $1.4 billion. Poland is Belarus' third biggest trade partner after Russia and Ukraine and the third import partner after Russia and China. Belarus' export reached $584.4 million (114%), the import from Poland - $796.9 million (108.2%).

In January-June the Belarusian economy raised $109.2 million in Polish investments ($97.37 million in the same period of 2015), including $108.25 million in direct investments.

There are 17 representative offices, affiliated companies, commodity distribution network operators and distributors of Belarusian enterprises, including Belneftekhim Concern, MAZ, BelAZ, MTZ, Belarusian Potash Company, the national air carrier Belavia, Belarusian Railways, in Poland. There are more than 350 enterprises with the Polish capital in Belarus.