In an interview with the Russian Federation Today Magazine Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Belarus to Russia Igor Petrishenko talked on the main causes of the problems in trade and economic relations between Russia and Belarus.
“There are no big intractable problems in the Union State. But time does not stand still. The development of relations, movement forward, various external factors inevitably bring new challenges, and make us respond to emerging issues, which is a natural process. For that there are all possibilities, both political, economic and also legal ones. We compare notes on a regular basis. We have recently seen that the main problems are caused, as a rule, by difficult external economic situation, though it is not only about this. Decrease in trade (a big one) does not suit anyone and should be overcome. There are prerequisites for this. They are about the development of common markets, agro-industrial policy, overall cooperation”, the ambassador said.
According to him, there are examples of problematic situations “which we create ourselves” striving, for various reasons, to protect domestic producers from external factors.
“But in my opinion, no matter how complex the situation is, we must be committed to mutual obligations to ensure equal competition terms in the overall domestic market for our national manufacturers”, the diplomat believes.
He noted that, for example, in terms of the import substitution policy being implemented in Russia, Belarus is ready to participate in major joint projects, and vice versa.
“It would be wise not to create competing manufacturers on the territory of the two states. We also have not yet removed the problem of freight transit through Belarus and Russia from third countries, which directly affects our economy”, the Ambassador said.
Igor Petrishenko cited the data that the bilateral trade between Russia and Belarus totaled $27.5 billion in 2015, down by 26% from 2014. Both Belarus and Russia live in the globalized world and the situation on the world markets coupled with lower oil prices have a direct impact on the economies. Sanctions against Russia and its protective measures also have an impact on mutual trade. The main internal reasons are the reducing consumer demand due to growing retail prices and lowering incomes of the population, exchange differences caused by currency fluctuations, deterioration in lending terms in view of increased risks. Despite the decline in the exports in monetary terms, the trade volume has not been reduced considerably, and even demonstrated a substantial growth across some commodity positions (mainly agricultural produce).
“The main driver behind the increasing mutual trade is the use of the main advantages of integration. I will reiterate that the main thing is the coordination of the industrial and agro-industrial policy that takes into account the country specialization: strengthening of technological cooperation in the farming sector; development of cooperation ties; mutual investments; joint research; equal access to the Russian market for Belarusian producers and so on. We must not create additional problems to each other in the form of restrictions on the supply of goods. We need to develop our trade”, Igor Petrishenko said. (BelTA/Business World Magazine)