You are here

Where does Minsk-New Dehli roadmap lead?

Belarus is becoming attractive to the largest countries of the world. In less than six months of 2015, Minsk was visited by the firsts persons of France, Germany, Russia, Ukraine, China, and India. 

The last two countries are the most populous in the world. In total, India and China make up a third of the world's population (if not more). In relations with such countries, both economy and politics are equally important.

It is no accident that meeting with the President of India Pranab Mukherjee Alexander Lukashenko noted that the friendship with such a gigantic country dramatically reduces other countries' chances to manipulate Belarus. Ok, the president did not say exactly that. Let us see the full story. Alexey Martinenok reports.

Pranab Mukherjee was in Minsk for the first time, but he met with the Belarusian leader as Minister of Foreign Affairs eight years ago in New Delhi. Alexander Lukashenko visited India twice. Belarus has been enjoying long and strong friendship with this potential superpower. Fraternal relations have been maintained since the days of the Soviet Union.

India is an economic giant of the region who has a very flexible approach to foreign policy and trade. It is working closely with China, the US and the EU. It see Belarus as the main bridge between Europe and Asia. In turn, for our country, India is not only a partner of image but a potentially strategic partner.

India is G20, WTO, the Commonwealth of Nations, BRICS, and of course, the United Nations where it always supports Belarusian initiatives. In conversation one on one, Alexander Lukashenko spoke about the similar positions in politics.

Alexander Lukashenko, Belarus President:
I must say, Mr. President, that we are responsible for the relations that we once began to build. You know that we have never concealed pride in relations with India. I have always said that attempts to isolate Belarus or somehow put pressure on our country are futile because we have relations with such huge countries as yours.

India is one of the world's largest importers. And Belarus has much to offer. The main focus is on Belarusian machinery.

60% of Indian workforce is employed in agriculture, but the return is low - only a quarter of GDP.

Alexander Lukashenko:
Today it is economically feasible to organize co-production of machinery together with India under the brand "Belarus". We deem promising joint production of buses, trucks, utilities and road construction machinery. I am confident that machinery and equipment made in India will be in demand in other countries in Southeast Asia.

Belarus is a strategic country for those who want to profitably trade on the continent. Experts see prospects in the energy, metallurgy, mining and pharmaceuticals.

Pranab Mukherjee, President of India:
I am sure that Belarusian and Indian companies will find common interests. The Government of India has recently decided to recognize Belarus the market economy. And it will improve economic and trade relations many times in the coming years. India also intends to allocate for its companies a credit line of $100 million for the implementation of joint projects with Belarus. Despite the fact that trade and economic relations are already well developed, we still have more great opportunities to speed them up.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Vladimir Makei of Belarus flew in April for talks with leaders of large Indian companies. As a result, a dozen documents were signed in Minsk some time later. The main document is a road map of Belarusian-Indian cooperation.

The economic dialogue between the two countries at the buy-sell level is already in the past.

China, Pakistan and India - the three rounds of visits per month opened a map of the Asian region for Belarus.

Georgy Grits, economist:
We have an open economy. And open economy means that we have to sell to foreign markets quite a large share of our products. This means dependent economy. Therefore, discovery and access to some competitive markets for us is a form of national and economic security.

The trade turnover between Belarus and India now stands at $400 million.

The specific trade objective was announced at the business forum, during which Belarus presented real capabilities of a developer and producer.

Pranab Mukherjee:
Trade between Belarus and India is largely below its potential. We can raise our trade to $1 billion by 2020. This can be achieved if Belarus and India expand the range of goods, increase the share of high technologies and boost cooperation in areas such as health care, IT, financial services, transport and logistics. We have signed a roadmap of cooperation. This document focuses on economic and investment partnership as well as cooperation in the field of technology.

Alexander Lukashenko also spoke on foreign loans. Partners from abroad see Belarus as a good platform and we are ready to invest. The task is to determine the key areas of development for the country.

Alexander Lukashenko:
For the first time Belarus has created such a unique environment for business. The main thing is to start projects. Frankly, there is not enough of them now. Because now the approach is tougher: one cannot make products for warehouses. Therefore, if we have good projects, we will support and finance them.

The President stressed that companies with Indian capital will be supported, too. It's no longer necessary to give guarantees of good sales to products made jointly. The product under the brand "Made in Belarus" can automatically and seamlessly enter the multi-million market of the Eurasian Economic Union.

Pranab Mukherjee and Alexander Lukashenko meeting in Minsk