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Opinions & Interviews

18 Feb 2019

Lukashenko: Belarus-EU issues are not chronic

Lukashenko: Belarus-EU issues are not chronic

MINSK, 18 February (BelTA) – Issues in the relations between Belarus and the European Union are not chronic and can be resolved, Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko said as he met with European Commissioner for Budget and Human Resources Gunther Oettinger on 18 February, BelTA has learned.

“I am very glad to have this opportunity to meet with you today to discuss possible issues in our relations. However, the word ‘possible’ does not probably fit here. We have always had these issues and will probably have them in the future. However, we have seen in recent times that all the issues are not chronic and can be settled,” Alexander Lukashenko underlined.

The head of state noted that the parties had recently made considerable progress in promoting their relations, including cooperation in trade and economy. “You know our goal - we are set to diversify our foreign trade. We would like our trade with the European Union to account for some 30-35% of our total trade (with Russia and the rest of the world accounting for 30% each). The diversification will make us feel more comfortable in the manufacturing industry and trade in goods, because our country is export-oriented, as you know,” the president added.

Alexander Lukashenko noted that Belarus consumes only half of the domestic output, with the rest being sold abroad. “This means that foreign trade plays an important role, in particular in the budgeting process and the inflow of currency,” the head of state said.

“If you have any questions, if there are any concerns in the European Union regarding Belarus, I am ready to embark on a frank discussion and to answer all these questions and respond to these concerns, and if needed, take corresponding decisions,” the president noted.  

As BelTA reported earlier, European Commissioner for Budget and Human Resources Gunther Oettinger is on a working visit to Belarus on 17-18 February. Gunther Oettinger is expected to meet with Belarus Prime Minister Sergei Rumas, Finance Minister Maksim Yermolovich and Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Oleg Kravchenko. The parties are set to discuss issues related to the development of political dialogue, trade and economic cooperation between Belarus and the European Union, and interaction in the financial and customs sectors.

The European Union is the second biggest market for Belarusian products. The EU accounted for more than 30% of Belarus’ export in 2018 (26.8% in 2017). Last year Belarus-EU trade amounted to $17.3 billion, up by nearly 20% over 2017. Belarus exported $10.2 billion worth of goods to the EU, up by almost a third. Belarus had a $3 billion surplus, while in 2017 it stood at $1.2 billion.

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