Aleksandr Lukashenko holds session to discuss export of Belarusian produce

    Civil servants should work harder to raise export, said President of Belarus Aleksandr Lukashenko at the government session held on 2 November to discuss the export of Belarusian products.

    “I have repeatedly instructed the government, regional administrations, individual executives to run into foreign markets instead of simply entering them. We have to aggressively push forward, conquer new outlets, use the smallest chances available,” stressed the President. Addressing the government officials, the head of state said: “Everyone must work hard and grind away, as they say!”

    The President underlined that the Belarusian economy is open and virtually all the branches are export-oriented. “This is why the wellbeing of our country depends a lot on the dynamic increase in the export of merchandise and services to foreign markets, depends on our securing a foreign trade surplus,” said Aleksandr Lukashenko. The head of state reminded that for more than a decade export has been named a priority at the All-Belarusian People’s Congresses. “It is not just a slogan. It is the key factor determining the successful development of the country. This is why increasing export and shipping exports to more destinations are in the center of attention. There are no minor considerations in these matters. No trend should be left unnoticed. We must keep our finger on the pulse,” said Aleksandr Lukashenko.

    So far the export growth target has been hit. In January-August 2012 the export of commodities and services increased by 22.5% while the forecast stands at 11.6-12%. The positive foreign trade surplus is about $4 billion. “However, I am not concerned about overall figures but about the landscape picture: who works and how they work to increase export, are all the reserves used for it?” said the head of state.

    The President demanded that participants of the government session should give answers to the following questions. “First, who takes their goods to foreign markets on their own and who piggybacks on other people, what are the reasons behind the reduced output and export, an increase in the finished goods inventory, for instance, at enterprises of the Industry Ministry, the light industry ones? Why do the enterprises of the state food industry concern show negative trends?”

    “If someone is tired, you must understand you just have to say so and we will find a substitute. If you need aid… If you need aid indeed, then we will help. But let me make it absolutely clear, everyone must produce results,” said the head of state.

    The export of services, particularly construction and transportation ones, is another important matter. The President pointed out the problem of raising the export of construction services without accelerating the import of these services. “When we set out to raise the export of construction services, it increased by 34.5%. But at the same time import increased faster than twice the pace. As a result, we have a deficit of construction services worth about $170 million”.

    Aleksandr Lukashenko gave instructions to address blatant shortcomings in the export of construction services. “In present conditions when the Single Economic Space seems to allow raising the export of these services fast, our transport companies are moving really slow, showing growth of about 3%. It is one of the most tangible positions. It constitutes more than half of the total export of services. The growth should be more tangible”.

    The third problem the Belarus President pointed out is the payment for shipped commodities and the return of foreign currency earnings into the country. “In principle, it is the key thing that has gathered us here today. You may sell nothing whatsoever but you should bring money back into the country. If you sell something, then the money must return absolutely,” demanded the President. Yet the head of state pointed out positive tendencies regarding the reduction of overdue accounts receivable in comparison with the beginning of the year. “We still credit Russian partners. Taking into account the potential of our banking systems the situation should be reversed. Give me an answer why things are going this way and what measures have been taken. What are the relevant agencies doing?” the head of state asked those present.

    The operation of commodity distribution chains abroad was another important topic touched upon at the government session, namely the reasons behind the low effectiveness. “Less than 10% of Belarusian exports are sold via proprietary outlets and even then these units suffer from low financial discipline and the lack of a sensible pricing policy,” stated the President. Aleksandr Lukashenko pointed out the lack of a clear-cut development strategy among exporters. As an example the President mentioned assembly enterprises run by the Industry Ministry. “One time they are opened, half of them get shut down half a year later. It is not a flexible trade policy but an imitation of effort”.

    The sales of products on foreign markets bypassing proprietary chains or sales via mediator schemes that result in damages for the economy of the enterprises abound. According to the head of state, the State Control Committee has revealed facts when MTZ tractors and spare parts were exported by a mediator to Russia, Kazakhstan, and other countries while the mediator pretended to use domestic prices but in fact sold the commodities at much higher prices. “I am told that since last year and till August 2012 such deliveries exceeded Br90 billion,” said Aleksandr Lukashenko.

    “It seems to me that the top management of several ministries and concerns are self-complacent and, more than that, they are unconcerned. They hide behind overall good figures that have been achieved without their making an effort whatsoever. It must end. Everyone must work hard and grind away,” stressed Aleksandr Lukashenko.

    Addressing the participants of the government session, Aleksandr Lukashenko demanded that the discussion should not become a series of reports about what those reporting have done. Instead existing problems should be reported briefly and proposals to resolve them should be put forth.