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Trade has grown by almost 20% between Russian Federation and Belarus

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin meets with Prime Minister of Belarus Mikhail Myasnikovich

Transcript of the beginning of the meeting:

Vladimir Putin: Colleagues, good afternoon! I am very glad to see you!

I would first like to mention the most important thing in the economic sphere, which is that our trade is growing. From January through November 2010 (we do not have other, more recent data), our trade rose significantly and approached its pre-crisis levels. What is apparently even more encouraging for our Belarusian partners is that the rate of delivery of Belarusian goods to the Russian market has increased sharply – by approximately 47%. The total volume is somewhere around billion, and this sizeable indicator suggests high potential and good development prospects, which we will discuss today. We are very pleased to see you. Welcome!

Mikhail Myasnikovich: Thank you, Mr Putin, ladies and gentlemen! I want to thank you personally, Mr Putin, for hosting this meeting. For me, it is very important. I again want to emphasise that the Russian Federation is unequivocally a strategic partner for our government; and, of course, this meeting is very important to me personally – I would call it a landmark event.

I would like to thank you, Mr Putin, along with the Russian government, for the great work that has been done for the establishment of the Customs Union. I, too, participated in this process while in my former position. Perhaps somewhat indirectly, but the consistent and principled position of the government of the Russian Federation cemented our three countries. The fact that all the basic documents have been signed (and there are now 17 of them), establishes, in our view, a serious legal and regulatory framework that will allow us to move forward into the future.

We have ratified all the relevant agreements. I think that in the near future they will be ratified by other countries as well. All the appropriate internal procedures have been completed. Our task is now to create the entire algorithm for putting the Common Economic Space into full effect after January 1.

From time to time, we see that your press and ours write that Belarusians... are the ones profiting... that someone won and someone lost... but I want to state quite responsibly what we see as most important in these endeavors. The ultimate success of these measures is in creating equal conditions, equal conditions for economic entities and for our citizens: in other words, as we say in economic parlance, fair competition in the Common Economic Space.

Indeed, trade has grown by almost 20% – and this is good. The rate of exports is slightly higher than imports, and that rate is very large. But a sharply negative trade balance remains. There are the energy costs involved, but on the whole...

What do we see in our government? The forms of cooperation we have now – I mean those at the level of economic entities – are still somehow outdated. We need to create the conditions for the establishment of joint ventures, for large-scale industrial and science-industrial associations, perhaps with the participation of third countries, or representatives of third countries. Well, it seems to me... the world is globalising, and I think that we, too, should not only sell something to each other, but to develop along those lines.

Regarding the affairs of the Union State, of course, I would sincerely ask you to call for a meeting of the Council of Ministers of the Union State to be held in March, or perhaps in February, and I would ask you to hold it in Minsk. There was a preliminary agreement. That is why February would be better than March... Because a lot of issues have accumulated – dozens of issues – about ten of which are systemic. I think it would be a fairly significant breakthrough in our bilateral relations. Thank you very much.

Vladimir Putin: We know how consistently the Belarusian side has been working on the basic documents for creating the Common Economic Space. We are grateful to the government and to the president of Belarus. For our part – you also brought this up – we have followed through on all of our commitments, and we will continue our work. Regarding a meeting of the Council of Ministers of the Union State, then, we will agree to a specific date and hold it in Minsk. As to when – either in February or early March. We'll see.

Mikhail Myasnikovich: Please consider it.

Vladimir Putin: Agreed.

Mikhail Myasnikovich: Thank you.

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