Belarus and Leningrad Oblast can build a joint seaport terminal, Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko said as he met with Governor of Russia’s Leningrad Oblast Aleksandr Drozdenko on 25 September.
At the beginning of the meeting Aleksandr Lukashenko, first of all, spoke about common history connecting Belarus and Leningrad Oblast. He remarked that in the post-war years people from Leningrad too part in the restoration of Minsk, construction of the Minsk metro, and helped develop Belarusian science. “Just look, St. Petersburg is everywhere,” the President said.
"You are well aware of our capabilities., we are interested in cooperation with you. When we have some issues with Moscow I often tell our people not to worry. There are more than 5 million people in St. Petersburg, and more people in Leningrad Oblast. This is a lot. This is enough to cover the whole trade turnover with the Russian Federation if we establish good cooperation. Therefore, I am grateful to you for responding to our requests. We have cooperated and will cooperate with you,” the head of state said.
“We are now speaking and working a lot on changing logistics for the delivery of our goods. The Ust-Luga port is in Leningrad Oblast. We need to do our best to come to an agreement. And the primary issue is railway tariffs and transshipment in ports,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
According to the head of state, he discussed this topic with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin. Aleksandr Lukashenko suggested joining efforts to build a joint seaport terminal in Leningrad Oblast. In his words, the funds which were saved during the construction of the Belarusian nuclear power plant can be spent on that.
“He [Vladimir Putin] is fascinated by the idea. And I have even proposed a financial solution: we are ready to invest everything that we will save during the construction of the nuclear power plant, which is financed by Russia’s loans, in this port and the construction of a terminal. Therefore, if you are interested, we will be happy to implement this joint project with you,” the head of state said. He believes that this matter should be in the limelight.
The President also spoke about other cooperation avenues. Aleksandr Lukashenko noted that Leningrad Oblast supplies farm produce to St. Petersburg, but does not meet the demand in full. “We are ready to supply our products to satisfy the demand of St. Petersburg,” he said. According to the head of state, there are also good prospects in machine-building, production of elevators, agricultural development.
“Our new biotechnology company [Belarusian National Biotechnology Corporation] has launched the production of brand-new combined fodder. If you are interested (I am convinced that you will prefer this company with high-quality products), if you need this fodder for your fisheries, we will pleased to cooperate with you,” the President said.
Aleksandr Lukashenko also suggested mulling over the opening of joint fisheries with Leningrad Oblast. “They have big experience. We could join,” he said.
“Therefore, there are many things on the agenda. And you know that we are always ready to cooperate with you,” the head of state concluded.
Aleksandr Drozdenko, in turn, said that the trade between Belarus and Leningrad Oblast is increasing on a mutual basis. “As of 1 August, our import of agricultural equipment was bigger than in 2019. One of the reasons is that we cover 35% of the cost of Belarusian equipment from the budget of Leningrad Oblast,” he explained. “There are many Belarusian farm vehicles in Leningrad Oblast. There is a good price-quality ratio, good service maintenance. Therefore, we understand that it makes no sense to replace Belarusian machines with other vehicles.”
According to the governor, Leningrad oblast has already increased the import of forestry equipment from Belarus, started to buy heavy road equipment. We plan to sponsor the purchase of more than 100 vehicles from the budget,” the governor said.
Leningrad Oblast is also interested in municipal transport. “Piteravto Company plans to buy up to 1,500 combined buses. The first batch of 100 buses will be purchased in Q1 2021. We are interested in long-term cooperation here,” Aleksandr Drozdenko said.