Official visit of India President Pranab Mukherjee to Belarus

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Belarus would like to see more in-depth and extensive relations with India, Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko said as he met with India President Pranab Mukherjee on 3 June.

We have never concealed the fact that we are proud of our relations with India. On our part we will do everything we can, as quickly, efficiently and responsibly as possible, to advance our trade and economic relations to the level which matches our potential, the Belarusian head of state said.

Speaking about the political interaction and diplomacy, the Belarusian President emphasized that Belarus and India have never had negative relations and problems. Aleksandr Lukashenko assured his Indian counterpart that the state of affairs will be the same in the future.

“The attempts to isolate Belarus or put pressure will always be futile as long as we maintain relations with such giant nations as your country,” the Belarusian leader said.

“I was told in the run-up to your visit that there are many people on both sides who are skeptical of our ability to enhance cooperation. Probably, we will do a right thing if we disappoint these people by doing our utmost to bolster ties,” the Belarusian leader stressed.

Aleksandr Lukashenko remarked that it is not his first meeting with Pranab Mukherjee. The Belarusian head of state noted that his visits to India were quite productive and laid a foundation of the bilateral relations. He also stressed that the two countries have had the impeccable history of relations since the Soviet Union times.

The presidents discussed the concept and practical aspects of bilateral cooperation and agreed to diversify relations. “We are ready to discuss and make concrete decisions,” noted the Belarusian leader.

Aleksandr Lukashenko believes that Belarus and India can implement manufacturing and humanitarian projects.

“Since the first days of Belarus’ independence your country has been our faithful and reliable friend. For more than 20 years of diplomatic relations we have built a full-fledged partnership dialogue. Today Belarus is prepared for even closer bilateral cooperation,” the Belarusian leader stressed.

“Having modern technologies and equipment, we are ready to take part in the modernization of the Indian mining industry, improvement of its oil and gas sector,” the President of Belarus noted.

Aleksandr Lukashenko said that in the coming years India is planning to ramp up the production of coal; therefore, the country will need additional equipment. In his words, India already uses BelAZ heavy vehicles which show excellent performance characteristics. “We suggest establishing a center of the maintenance of such complex vehicles in your country by the end of 2015. It will provide a full cycle of timely, high-quality and efficient maintenance of Belarusian quarry equipment,” the Belarusian leader said.

Aleksandr Lukashenko said he believes that the organization of the joint production of buses, trucks, municipal vehicles, and road construction machines looks promising. “I am confident that the vehicles and equipment made in India will sell in other Southeast Asia countries, too. We will be able to reach those countries to offer the jointly made Belarusian-Indian products,” said the Belarusian leader. In his opinion, apart from sharing technologies it is necessary to develop distribution networks together for the sake of reaching new markets.

According to the Belarusian head of state, cooperation in tractor production looks as promising. Belarusian tractors have been known in India since the Soviet times. “It seems to me it is now economically advisable to start making vehicles together in India using the Belarus brand. This project follows the spirit of the program Make in India that your government is implementing. Taking into account the Indian national professional skills development program we could provide assistance with training highly qualified specialists that your economy needs,” noted the Belarus President. With this in mind he suggested discussing the establishment of technical education centers in India with assistance of Belarus.

Speaking about the joint promotion of Belarusian and Indian products, Aleksandr Lukashenko said he believes it is also important to reinforce ties between banks and financial institutions of the two countries.

“We tightly cooperate with Indian companies in the reconstruction and construction of power engineering installations in Belarus. Deeper cooperation in this sphere and in the implementation of other infrastructure projects will be beneficial for the two countries,” the Belarusian head of state said.

Belarus welcomes the arrival of Indian investors in the pharmaceutical industry taking into account India’s accomplishments in pharmaceutics.

According to Aleksandr Lukashenko, joint R&D efforts in the area of nano and biotechnologies, microelectronics, mechanical engineering, and renewable sources of energy can also become promising.

“We suggest setting up such enterprises in the China-Belarus Industrial Park. Residents of the park enjoy support of the Belarus government, unprecedented privileges and unhindered access to the market of the Eurasian Economic Union and the European Union,” the Belarusian head of state noted.

The Belarus President said he was confident that joint decisions will represent an additional incentive in favor of implementing new mutually beneficial projects.

“Only the geographical distance stands between us and India but it will never be a hindrance for the development of contacts between our countries and nations because our countries and nations have a serious history of relations,” Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed.

The Indian President expressed confidence in big prospects for economic cooperation with Belarus. In his words, the forthcoming Belarusian-Indian business forum will promote bilateral cooperation. “I am confident that Belarusian and Indian companies will be able to find common interests,” Pranab Mukherjee said.

The President of India stressed that India is ready to open a $100 million credit line for its companies to implement joint projects with Belarus in the areas that will be outlined during the Belarusian-Indian high level talks.

“Despite the fact that the trade and economic relations have been developing, there are big opportunities to intensify them. We need to diversify the sector of goods in trade in order to increase the bilateral trade which is currently at $400 million,” the Indian leader said.

After the top-level talks the sides signed a number of bilateral documents.

In particular, Belarus and India signed a roadmap for bilateral cooperation.

The sides signed a protocol to the intergovernmental agreement on the avoidance of double taxation and the prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income and capital.

They also signed memorandums of cooperation in finance, standardization and information support, broadcasting, textile industry, and fashion.