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3 Mar 2015

Negotiations on Italian industrial cluster in Belarusian free economic zone to resume

MINSK, 3 March (BelTA) – Belarus and Italy intend to return to the matter of the establishment of an Italian industrial cluster in the free economic zone Brest prior to the first session of the Belarusian-Italian commission on trade and economic cooperation that will take place in January 2016. The decision was made during the meeting of Belarusian Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Semashko and Benedetto Della Vedova, Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the Italian Foreign Ministry, in Minsk on 3 March, BelTA has learned.

Vladimir Semashko remarked that Italy has traditionally been one of Belarus’ main trade partners among non-CIS states. In 2014 Belarus-Italy trade approached $2.2 billion. Belarus’ export was slightly more than $1 billion, 12% up from 2013. In 2014 total Italian investments in Belarus stood at $38.6 million. Direct investments on a net basis rose by more than 66% to $24.5 million. According to the Belarusian Justice Ministry, in March 2014 the united state registry of corporations and self-employed businessmen had records of 173 existing corporations with Italian capital, including 102 joint ventures.

However, the rather good results of the year 2014 are not the limit, believes Vladimir Semashko. It is a good foundation for moving on. “We should work out new mechanisms, approaches, niches where we could grow successfully,” the Deputy Prime Minister of Belarus told the Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the Italian Foreign Ministry.

In particular, Vladimir Semashko suggested resuming negotiations on setting up an Italian industrial cluster in the free economic zone Brest. He outlined the opportunities that Italian businesses will get if the cluster is established. The opportunities included access to the 170-million-strong Customs Union market and the Eurasian Economic Union market.

After negotiations with the Deputy Prime Minister of Belarus Benedetto Della Vedova confirmed the readiness of the Italian side to discuss the establishment of the cluster. In his words, the sides will have to do a lot of work prior to the session of the joint commission in order to be able to consider a new impulse in the development of the bilateral relations.

Vladimir Semashko said he believes that representatives of Italian business circles should visit Belarus in order to be able to discuss possible cooperation vectors in detail.

Taking part in Expo Milano 2015 is another opportunity to present the full potential of the Belarusian economy. Belarus is now busy preparing for the forum. “It is an excellent opportunity to present the country, to show its face as a manufacturer of agricultural machines, to present the tourism and cultural potential,” believes the Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the Italian Foreign Ministry.

Talking to mass media, Benedetto Della Vedova said he was confident that Belarus and Italy had a great potential for stepping up economic interaction. “I think it is primarily true with regard to higher trade turnover as well as investments in manufacturing,” he said. The Italian official also said he hopes that the European Union’s political dialogue with Belarus will be resumed. It would contribute to the development of economic relations, too. “The European Union is a demanding partner,” noted Benedetto Della Vedova. “But it is a partner you can trust from the economic point of view”.

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