Alexander Lukashenko asks to remove restrictions in Belarus-EBRR cooperation

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Alexander Lukashenko asks to remove restrictions in Belarus-EBRR cooperation

Belarus' state-owned enterprises may become part of the new strategy of relations between Belarus and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development for 2016-2018. On February 18, this topic was discussed by the head of state at the meeting with Suma Chakrabarti, president of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

Belarus joined the Bank in 1992.  Alexander Lukashenko invited the President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development Suma Chakrabarti to take part in projects in the field of housing, transit routes and agribusiness.

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development is the biggest investor in the region. It usually invests in private enterprises together with commercial partners. In 34 countries, it finances both new production facilities and existing companies. In addition to the issuance of money, it attracts significant foreign direct investments.

The plant for production of electric transport in Fanipol is a vivid example of such cooperation. The President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development visited this plant during his two-day visit to Belarus. The eminent financier Suma Chakrabarti is visiting Belarus for the first time. On February 18, he met with Alexander Lukashenko.

The President of Belarus thanked the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development for their cooperation. This largest financial structure gave Belarus more than half a billion U.S. dollars for the implementation of investment projects in our country. The sides plan to develop a document - a new strategy of cooperation for 2016-2018.

Alexander Lukashenko, Belarus President:
I would like to ask you as the head of the Bank to remove all restrictions regarding cooperation with Belarus, especially with regard to state-owned enterprises. We as a nation and our government will ensure the reliability of this cooperation.

Suma Chakrabarti, president of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development:
For three years, Belarus and our bank have been enjoying very good cooperation. We have invested 700 million euros. And this is despite the restrictions.  I am proud that you were able to attract good investors in Belarus.

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development plans to collaborate with the public sector in Belarus through public-private partnerships. Now efforts have been increased to attract major investors in the country.

Belarus suggests new areas of cooperation. They range from agribusiness to the construction of highways. Alexander Lukashenko suggested considering projects in the housing sector.

Alexander Lukashenko, Belarus President:
This is timely because we started a significant reform of public utilities.
You know that there has been a stalemate when it comes to the transit from east to west and vice versa in relation to the events in Ukraine. Thus, there remains only one more or less safe and secure direction - Belarus. In connection with the increased traffic flow through Belarus we are afraid of our infrastructure being congested, so we are quickly and massively conducting modernization of the transport system. I mean both road and rail transport. We asked the World Bank for support, and they did not refuse. We also would like to ask for your support. And in the next two years, we will be able to solve this problem, because there may come a time when we will not be able to let so many vehicles pass through Belarus.
Another direction in which we are seriously engaged, and you know about it, is agribusiness. If you find it necessary to participate in these projects, we will also be grateful to you.

Funds that come to Belarus from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development have to be passed through subsidiaries of Russian banks. Alexander Lukashenko suggested considering other options.

Alexander Lukashenko, Belarus President:
Today, Russia is under sanctions. And if you apply these sanctions to these banks, we can lose the source from which we get financing from your bank. This cannot be allowed! We have to find a way out of this situation. We are ready to offer options or consider your suggestions to deepen cooperation not only with Belarus, but perhaps (through Belarus) with other countries - it is up to you.

Suma Chakrabarti, president of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development:
We are not able to propose projects in your country that involve banks with Russian capital. Therefore, one of the major challenges for us in the near future is to seek opportunities that will compensate for the missing volume of investments.

Prospects of implementing projects in Belarus with the Bank's support was discussed on 18 February at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Belarus. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development intends to increase financing of small and medium-sized businesses.