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Lukashenko suggests giving powerful impetus to Belarus-India economic contacts

MINSK (BelTA) – Belarus and India should work more actively on expanding economic relations, Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko said as he met with Sumitra Mahajan, Speaker of the Lok Sabha, the lower house of India's Parliament, on 12 June, BelTA has learned.

“Taking into consideration our common stance on the international agenda, mutual support at international organizations, first of all, at the United Nations, we need to act more decisively and actively in promoting economic relations, investment and so on,” Alexander Lukashenko said.

The head of state noted that on the sidelines of the recent Shanghai Cooperation Organization Summit in China he met with India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi to discuss the bilateral relations. The parties outlined promising areas of cooperation. “We talked a lot about Belarus-India relations,” the president added.

The visit of Sumitra Mahajan to Belarus testifies to the commitment of the leadership of the two countries to strengthen the relations, Alexander Lukashenko underlined. “We would like these political contacts to rely on a very strong trade and economic foundation. We have everything in place to move away from conventional trade (this is also important, of course) to joint investment and joint ventures both in India and Belarus,” Alexander Lukashenko said.

Earlier Belarus had invited India to establish a joint industrial park to manufacture high-tech goods following the model of cooperation with China. In addition, the country offers its transportation and logistics capabilities to transport Indian goods to the regions of the EU and the EAEU. "The proposals remain valid. I know that your country welcomed them. We would like to proceed to the park construction in Belarus more quickly,” the head of state noted.

“Bearing in mind the role of the Parliament in India, I would like to ask you to take cooperation with Belarus, especially in the field of investment, under serious control,” Alexander Lukashenko said.

The Indian parliamentary delegation is on a visit to Belarus on 9-13 June. Sumitra Mahajan has already held meetings with Chairman of the Council of the Republic Mikhail Myasnikovich and Chairman of the House of Representatives Vladimir Andreichenko.

The Indian MPs are scheduled to tour Minsk Tractor Works, the Hi-Tech Park and the India-Belarus Digital Learning Center in ICT, the National Library and the Museum of the History of the Great Patriotic War.

The delegation is to meet with representatives of the Indian diaspora living in Belarus.

India is Belarus' biggest and most promising trading partner in South Asia. In 2017 the bilateral trade exceeded $455 million, up by nearly 12%. Belarus has a trade surplus of $161 million.

In January-March the Belarusian export amounted to $95 million, up by 39.2% over the same period a year before. Belarus' major exports to India are potash fertilizers, chemical products and processed leather.

After Alexander Lukashenko's visit to India in September last year, the two countries agreed to localize the production of Belarus' major machine-building brands in India, to set up Belarusian equipment demonstration centers and vocational training centers, to ramp up the production of drugs in Belarus using the Indian technology, to boost bilateral trade and expand cooperation in the services sector.

Belarus and India also agreed to discuss the use of the Indian credit line of $100 million to set up enterprises in the special economic zone Bremino-Orsha. In June, a delegation of investors visited Belarus, including this site.