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Opinions & Interviews

3 Oct 2017

Belarusian exporters encouraged to fortify positions in Russia, diversify in European Union

Belarusian exporters encouraged to fortify positions in Russia, diversify in European Union

MINSK, 3 October (BelTA) – Belarusian exporters should fortify their positions in Russia and diversify exports to the European Union. Prime Minister of Belarus Andrei Kobyakov made the statement during the session of the Council of Ministers’ Presidium held on 3 October to discuss measures and results of the efforts to increase and diversify the export of merchandise and services, BelTA has learned.

Andrei Kobyakov said: “On the one hand, it is important to preserve and bolster our positions in Russia. On the other hand, it is important to increase output and diversify the choice of exports to the European Union and other countries.”

In January-July Belarus’ export of merchandise and services rose by 19.5% from the same period of last year. Merchandise export went up by 21.1% while the export of services rose by 14.8%. The positive results are attributed to an increase in the average export prices (16.2% up) and the physical volumes (4.2%). Without taking into account energy goods (bearing in mind the oil shipment situation in early 2017) the physical volume of export rose by 12.3%.

The increase in the export of services was fueled by increases in the export of transport services (nearly $300 million up), computer services (nearly $120 million up), telecommunication services ($20 million up), and other ones. The share of services in the total volume of exported merchandise and services totaled 20.9%. Andrei Kobyakov reminded that in line with the 2016-2020 national program on developing and supporting export it is necessary to increase the share of services up to 22% in 2017 and up to 25% in 2020.

The head of state has given instructions to evenly distribute Belarusian export between the Eurasian Economic Union, the European Union, and other countries. The goal has not been achieved yet, stated the head of government. In January-July 2017 the Eurasian Economic Union share was 47.8%, with Russia’s share at 45.3%. Countries of the European Union accounted for 26.5% of the total export, with the share of other countries at 25.7%.

Export to Russia rose by 24.4% to $7.2 billion. At present Russia buys virtually all the meat and dairy products and footwear Belarus exports. Russia accounts for over 80% of the total export of refrigerators, freezers, harvesters, and roughly 75% of the trucks Belarus exports. “It doesn’t mean we ship too much to Russia. We don’t. It means we ship too little to the European Union and other countries,” pointed out Andrei Kobyakov.

Belarus’ export to distant-arc countries (Asia, Africa, America, and Oceania) rose by 19.2% to $1.8 billion. “Apart from potash fertilizers it is necessary to sell more mechanical engineering products, agricultural products, and foods to these countries. Government officials, who are in charge of diversifying the export of Belarusian merchandise and services in specific countries, should work hard on it,” stressed the head of government. So far the targeted increase in the export of merchandise has not been reached in 14 countries. The prime minister said he would like the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as the coordinator and the assigned government officials to come up with ways to improve results in this field.

Overall goals concerning the export of merchandise and services have been reached by the all government agencies. “No doubt, it is a good result,” noted Andrei Kobyakov. “However, it is necessary to export more to new promising markets. A number of government agencies have failed to secure this goal. It means that the measures, which are being taken to increase and diversify export, are insufficient and more efforts should be concentrated in this direction.”

Heads of ministries, concerns, and municipal government agencies should pay close attention to fulfilling the agreements, which are reached as a result of visits of the head of state. Those are primarily visits to China, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Pakistan, Turkey, Vietnam, Italy, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and Sudan.

“We have three months till the end of the year. We should mobilize efforts in order to fulfil our plans, execute signed contracts, and come up with measures to preserve the positive export dynamics in 2018 and the years to come,” concluded Andrei Kobyakov.

The prime minister asked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to evaluate this year’s export, evaluate what will drive Belarus’ export growth in 2018, what impedes more vigorous export diversification to distant-arc countries, and report what legislative initiatives are in development to incentivize export and its diversification.


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