Meeting with Irkutsk Oblast Governor Sergei Levchenko

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Belarus and Irkutsk Oblast of the Russian Federation should find reserves to build up their mutual trade, Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko said as he met with Governor of Irkutsk Oblast Sergei Levchenko on 6 December.

“We reached a record high trade of $115 million in 2015. This year, however, we are witnessing a considerable decline. In order to rectify the situation we need to find reserves to step up our mutual trade. Economy is a basis of any relations. We will have to find those reserves whether we want it or not,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

Belarusian goods and technologies were offered to Irkutsk Oblast to help it implement its goals.

“There are good prospects for cooperation in the delivery of mine, cargo and other special-purpose vehicles and equipment, as well as loaders for your coal and other deposits. Besides, we are ready to supply agricultural, passenger and road construction vehicles and machinery, develop production cooperation, including with companies of the military industrial complex. We are ready to set up joint companies in Irkutsk Oblast as we have already done in other Russian regions,” the head of state said.

It was noted at the meeting that this year Irkutsk Oblast has largely reoriented itself to the use of the Belarusian equipment which is highly competitive in both quality and productivity, and also the cost.

Belarus and Irkutsk Oblast will also work hard to find mutually beneficial joint projects in agriculture. “Our agrarians cultivate high-yield varieties of potato and grain. I know you need it,” the President added.

According to the head of state, prospects are also high for cooperation in the construction sector. “You have ambitions tasks. You plan to build up to 1.5 million square meters of housing a year. Belarus has the relevant experience. We once were an exemplary construction complex, and we remain to be so. We are ready to implement turn-key construction projects for you,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

The parties agreed that the joint assembling of elevators can be one of the promising areas of cooperation in the sector. They also consider as promising the implementation of a pilot project to build a Belarus-model agrotown in Irkutsk Oblast.

Another possible area of bilateral cooperation is timber logging. Here, the parties consider various options of collaboration, including joint furniture production.

The President said that the country pins high hopes on cooperation with Russian regions. That is why Belarus is open for cooperation with Irkutsk Oblast in various spheres. “Let’s move in the direction that we chose in 2015: to boost the trade between Belarus and Irkutsk Oblast, and also between our country and Russia. We ourselves criticize our union, and now foreign countries have started to wonder what kind of economic union it is if our trade is declining. We ourselves understand that this is abnormal, but now others have started to criticize us and doubt the usefulness of our integration association,” the Belarusian leader noted.

The head of state stressed that Belarus is ready to step up its trade with Russia in general and Irkutsk Oblast in particular. “You just ask, and we will do anything that your region needs. If you find any areas of our development interesting, we are ready not only to come and help you do it, but also work together with you,” Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed.