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27 Sep 2018

Belarus-Tajikistan treaty on strategic partnership drafted

Belarus-Tajikistan treaty on strategic partnership drafted

DUSHANBE, 27 September (BelTA) - A comprehensive draft treaty on strategic partnership between Belarus and Tajikistan has been drawn up, Ambassador of Belarus to Tajikistan Oleg Ivanov told the media, BelTA has learned.

“The presidents have given a number of assignments for the September meeting: to take steps in politics, economy, and in the humanitarian area to show that Belarus and Tajikistan are not mere participants of the integration association and partners but are strategic partners. In terms of politics we were mandated to develop a comprehensive treaty on strategic partnership. This is a new thing for Belarus. The draft has been drawn up. I think it will be harmonized by the parties before the end of the year,” the diplomat said.

Oleg Ivanov stressed that the most important area for cooperation is economy. During the official visit of the Belarusian president to Tajikistan in May this year, the heads of state gave an instruction to complete the construction of the assembly plant of Belarusian tractors in Hisor. “The presidents inaugurated the first phase. Now the second one is ready. So is the showroom that will showcase not only farm equipment but also the entire lineup of mechanical engineering products and related goods Belarus has to offer. Starting from tires and engines and ending with most advanced tractors and mountain mowers specially designed for Tajikistan,” the ambassador said.

The instruction to set up a training center at the plant has been implemented as well. The issue of personnel training is very important for Tajikistan. “It is a question of survival for the industry and the economy as a whole. It was therefore decided to set up the center at the place where we assemble agricultural machinery and where we can use test fields,” Oleg Ivanov noted.

He stressed that the plant in Hisor is, in fact, a fully-integrated enterprise that includes delivery of components from Belarus, assembly and personnel training, the use of vehicles in the fields and harvesting. The presidents will be shown this year’s crops harvested using Belarusian machinery assembled in Hisor. These are cotton, wheat and various vegetables,” the diplomat noted.

In the future specialists from Afghanistan will also be able to undergo training at the center.

Talks are in progress with Tajikistan on creating equal conditions for promoting assembled products on the market of Tajikistan. Oleg Ivanov emphasized that he did not mean preferences, but just equal terms. Some time ago Tajikistan decreed that machinery imported in the country for personal use is exempt from the VAT. It was designed to enable local farmers to buy the necessary machinery at a lower price. Belarusian machinery assembled in the neighboring countries was also eligible for the VAT exemption. “It was done in the time when nothing was assembled here. Time has passed. Now you assemble your own machinery and we kindly ask you to make the terms equal [this pertains to the VAT exemption for jointly manufactured products in Hisor],” Oleg Ivanov said.

“The same way as in the EAEU. We do not ask for any special preferences for Belarus, we just ask to create equal terms for competition,” the diplomat added.

Belarus and Tajikistan are discussing a possibility to cooperate in milk production and processing. Several options are under consideration, from supplies and further processing of milk powder to establishment of fully-integrated enterprises. “These options are being scrutinized. They should be commercially viable. This was clearly stated from the very beginning. These should not be political projects,” the ambassador underlined.

Apart from that, international financial structures pledged funds for Belarusian projects. The parties managed to raise financing for implementing dairy industry projects. Our Tajikistani partners and us have received several substantial financial grants that will be used, first of all, to purchase sophisticated Belarusian machinery,” Oleg Ivanov said.

The parties concluded several contracts to supply modern equipment, including trolleybuses. Tajikistan may also buy Belarusian electric buses in the future.

As for cooperation in pharmaceutics, Belarus and Tajikistan continue to explore possible forms of cooperation. "In Belarus we often hear criticism about Belcoopsoyuz consumer cooperation system that has been left over from the Soviet Union. However, we are used to it. Here in Tajikistan they have not had such a system for a long time, and there is simply no one we can work with in this area. The government is currently discussing the establishment of an association of procurement organizations. We planned to deliver medicines to Tajikistan and purchase Tajik medicinal raw materials. However, it turned out that there is no one to talk to about the collection of medicinal herbs. This means that the discussion of the issue has been postponed for some time,” the diplomat said.

All projects need a sound business rationale. “It takes time and willingness of both the sides. We are ready to launch projects,” said Oleg Ivanov.

Speaking about Belarus-Tajikistan trade which slightly decreased in H1 2018 over the same period a year before, the ambassador noted that the trend is not indicative. “The main contracts are concluded in the first half of the year and implemented in the second one. I am confident that we will catch up,” he said.

This slump in trade came on the heels of a decrease in the supplies of Belarusian sugar to Tajikistan. “Tajikistan prefers Belarusian sugar that fits their technological lines [compared with similar products on the regional market]. We were dealing with our own problems related to the technical regulations in the EAEU. Supplies were frozen. They will be restored soon,” said Oleg Ivanov.

The trade between Belarus and Tajikistan amounted to almost $43 million in 2017. More than 15 Belarusian enterprises operate commodity distribution networks in Tajikistan.

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