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14 Sep 2017

Plans for tighter cooperation between Belarusian Vitebsk, Chinese Harbin

VITEBSK, 14 September (BelTA) – A permanent commission on cooperation between Vitebsk and Harbin will be established. The agreement was reached as Vitebsk Mayor Viktor Nikolaikin met with Harbin Vice Mayor Zhi Dayong on 14 September, BelTA has learned.

The commission will include specialists from various branches of the Vitebsk and Harbin administrations. They will be tasked with interaction at the interagency level, with searching for mutually beneficial projects and overseeing such projects.

The sphere of common interests has already been determined. In particular, the Chinese side is interested in setting up joint ventures to make medications for humans and animals. With this in mind members of the Chinese delegation were made familiar with the operation of the pharmaceutical company BelVitunipharm on 14 September.

Participants of the meeting agreed to expand cultural contacts and promote joint projects in education. Viktor Nikolaikin noted that at present Chinese is taught only at one secondary school in Vitebsk. This project is implemented in association with the Chinese embassy in Belarus and the Confucius institutes under the Belarusian State University and the Minsk State Linguistic University. There are plans to teach Chinese at more education institutions in Vitebsk soon. Plans have been made to enable regular exchange programs for students and teachers of secondary schools, too.

Belarus and China intend to declare 2018 the year of Belarusian-Chinese tourism. Joint projects will be implemented as part of the initiative.

Apart from that, the sides discussed shipments of meat and dairy products and footwear made by Vitebsk companies to Harbin. The possibility of using the Vitebsk airport for logistic purposes was mentioned.

“We’ve managed to come to terms on many matters in culture, tourism, pharmaceutics, and other spheres. We will have to work out long-term and short-term work schedules for each of them,” Zhi Dayong said at the end of the meeting.

China is Vitebsk’s second largest foreign trade partner after Russia. In January-June 2017 the bilateral trade was close to $30 million. Over 50 Vitebsk companies have established economic ties with Chinese commercial entities. Vegetable oil, leather, and flax are exported. In 2017 trial lots of confectionery, alcohol products, and optics were sold to China. The Vitebsk mayor said he was confident that the current visit would contribute to the expansion of Vitebsk-Harbin economic contacts.

 

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