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26 Jan 2017

Belarus Prime Minister sees $500m in trade with Serbia as achievable goal

MINSK, 26 January (BelTA) – Belarusian Prime Minister Andrei Kobyakov believes that the trade with Serbia can be raised to $500 million. He made a relevant statement as he met with Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic in Minsk on 26 January, BelTA has learned.

Over the seven years since the launch of the free trade regime, the trade between Belarus and Serbia increased almost five times and exceeded $250 million in 2015. “In 2016, in the context of the challenging economic situation, our performance dropped significantly. However, we have good potential for strengthening our economic cooperation. To raise the trade with Serbia to $500 million in the coming years is an achievable goal for the bilateral cooperation,” Andrei Kobyakov noted.

To attain the objective, Belarus invites Serbia to step up the cooperation in investment, science and technology. Andrei Kobyakov said that joint events and projects will enable the two countries to use the advantages of both of them and boost revenues. He pointed out that it is time to launch direct supplies of goods between Belarus and Serbia without intermediaries, including through establishment of joint trade and investment companies and assembly plants. “It is important to start working hard right away to develop the cooperation and set up joint ventures. Our collaboration has already generated successful results,” the head of the Belarusian government said. For instance, Belarus’ large exporting machine-building enterprises already operate distribution centers in Serbia.

“Belarus is aiming for long-term cooperation with Serbia. We bear in mind Serbia’s interests and work towards the greatest possible level of localization of jointly manufactured products,” Andrei Kobyakov stressed.

He noted that Belarus and Serbia create serious competition for Western companies, which is quite beneficial for Serbia as it can get technology, make its our products and create new jobs. Belarus is ready to conduct a project to set up joint production of firefighting vehicles using MAZ chassis for Serbia’s needs. Aleksandar Vucic will have an opportunity to see the vehicle manufactured in cooperation with Russian partners during a visit to Minsk Automobile Plant (MAZ trademark). Belarus is also eager to establish an international holding company that would include the companies Belavtogaz and Petar Drapsin to make vehicle parts.

Belarus and Serbia will sign a roadmap for the development of cooperation in 2017 and 2018. “I am confident that the implementation of this roadmap will create favorable conditions for tapping into the potential of the Belarusian-Serbian cooperation. I believe that as we join our efforts, our all-round cooperation will become even more substantial and long-lasting. The leaders of our countries have laid a solid foundation for this,” Andrei Kobyakov emphasized.

Aleksandar Vucic agreed with his Belarusian counterpart that Serbia and Belarus should focus on matters of economic cooperation. The two countries will be working hard to raise the trade to $500 million by 2019, he said.

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