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Opinions & Interviews

16 Jun 2016

Belarus calls for exemptions-free trade, common energy market in EEU

MOSCOW, 16 June (BelTA) – As a member of the Eurasian Economic Union Belarus will, first and foremost, seek to remove exemptions and restrictions to trade. Other goals are a coherent industrial policy and common energy market, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Belarus to Russia Igor Petrishenko said when speaking at the roundtable “EEU and trading partners: common economic space” at the 20th St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, BelTA learned from the press service of the diplomatic mission.

The Ambassador stressed that the main goal which a state seeks to accomplish when joining an integration union is to maximize the economic potential of each member for its own benefit and for the benefit of the entire region. “Belarus is no exception,” the diplomat said. “We are an industrial export-oriented country. The share of exports in the Belarusian GDP is traditionally over 50%. At the same time we have the impressive dependence on import: 68% of GDP is produced with the use of imported raw materials and components, which come mainly from the Eurasian Economic Union member states. Given this, the goal number one for us in the union is to remove exemptions and restrictions to trade in goods and services, to ensure equal access for economic entities to procurement government contracts. The second goal is to ensure a coordinated industrial policy, which implies, on the one hand, country specialization in order to eliminate redundant duplicating productions, and, on the other hand, implementation of new high-tech projects using joint scientific, production and financial capabilities. The third goal is to develop the common energy market in order to ensure equal conditions for competition between manufacturers of the member countries,” the Belarusian Ambassador said.

Igor Petrishenko noted that in recent years the mutual trade has declined, including due to the adverse external factors. Still there are positive advances towards integration which create a basis for further cooperation.

“We, five members, have approved the main areas of industrial cooperation (as well as a plan to implement them). We have made the first steps towards a single energy market, approved the concept for the formation of the market of electricity, gas, oil and petroleum products. In the near future we should develop the common markets for pharmaceuticals and medical products,” the Ambassador noted.

He noted that the process of market liberalization of services has been launched in more than 70 sectors. In particular, the compromise solutions have been found in the construction sector. The EEU member states are agreeing the approaches to currency relations and adopted a program to liberalize cabotage transportation. “I hope we will soon revisit the issue of lifting the restrictions to the delivery of goods to/from third countries,” Igor Petrishenko said.

In his words, the future of the Eurasian Economic Union will largely depend on the ability of its member states to find a balance between national and global interests for the achievement of common development goals. “This will be impossible without a more important role of the Eurasian Economic Commission and the expansion of its powers. Only a strong supranational body will help avoid trade wars (misunderstandings), abandon the policy of supporting exclusively the domestic producers at the expense of the partners’ interests. Such a body will be able to find solutions aimed at expanding cooperation, setting up joint manufacturing facilities, implementing regional infrastructure projects and so on. We must learn to protect our common market against a poor-quality competition from third countries, not from each other,” the diplomat said.

The Ambassador expressed confidence that this policy would positively affect the mutual relations with foreign countries, promote a stable and predictable economic environment, attract investment resources and new technologies to the region, and create joint products competitive both on the domestic and foreign markets.

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