Alexander Lukashenko: Belarusian products in demand around the world. We must learn to sell them

Alexander Lukashenko: Belarusian products in demand around the world. We must learn to sell them

The word "crisis" has already set our teeth on edge. But the crisis has also good consequences sometimes. It teaches us to prudently use the resources, to manage the budget in German style, not at random. The crisis will quickly teach Belarusian companies to sell machinery and other products on external markets instead of sitting idly and waiting for clients. This was the thought expressed by President Lukashenko during his Friday visit to the Pinsk plant of the engineering holding company Amkodor. Our correspondent Yuliya Beshanova visited the plant too.

Precision handling and unexpected transformations: this company can easily and quickly turn road-building machinery into construction equipment. After large-scale modernization, modern special machines, which have no analogues among recognized international manufacturers, roll off the conveyor of the Pinsk branch of the Amkodor company.

In the late 2000s, the plant lacked production capacity. To purchase a vehicle, buyers had to queue for a few months. The modernization cost the company almost BYR 400 billion.

Mikhail But-Gusaim, Director of Amkodor Pinsk:
In fact, this is the second wind, the second youth of the enterprise, because during this period, from 2012 to 2015, we held large renovation of the enterprise and created new production buildings. Today's price list includes more than 50 kinds of products. About 10 vehicles are being tested, commissioned or their series production is already underway.

Today the holding company is ready to increase production by almost 2.5 times. Amkodor promises to find buyers. However, the company does not have enough working capital. The reasons are obvious: volatile markets of the nearest neighbors, exchange rate differences plus the need to repay loans taken for modernization. Amkodor, however, promises positive dynamism by the end of 2016. The state is ready to help the promising company. Alexander Lukashenko said that the main thing is return from production process itself.

Alexander Lukashenko, President of Belarus:
If you return the money, we have to find money for this. And we do have it. If he guarantees that money will return (I'm not saying about sales; this is his business), but if there is a guarantee of return, we should talk about it. We will borrow; I'll look for the money personally. I will know that he will return it by the end of 2016.

The holding's priorities is the expansion of production and hence the creation of new jobs. The Brest region promises to cope with this instruction of the President perfectly.

Alexander Lukashenko:
How is job creation going?

Anatoly Lis, Chairman of the Brest Regional Executive Committee:
We were tasked with creating 4,600 jobs but we decided to go further and will try to create 5,000.

Alexander Lukashenko:
The highest value are workers and employees (engineers and technicians, designers, and other officials). This is the highest value for any state. Thank God we have understood it. People are the main thing.

The new staff will not be left without work at Amkodor. There is demand for special equipment, of course. Today Belarusian machines work in more than 30 countries. A ten-million contract with the Republic of Bangladesh is at the stage of execution. Negotiations on the export of technology in Zimbabwe are underway. 

Amkodor has already delivered products worth $15 million to the USA.

Some pieces of Amkodor machinery do not have analogues. Huge wheels and power: you will not see such harvesters in Belarusian forests. This is because this machine is specifically designed for the forests of Siberia. Russians are ready to buy up to 50 of these "forest heavyweights " each year.

Andrei German, First Deputy General Designer of Amkodor Pinsk:
To date, our machinery is two times cheaper than imported brands. Return on sales of such Amkodor machines is more than 25%. These are very high figures for today.

The marketing strategy of Amkodor is not to sell machines but put the technology to a new level.

Alexander Malinovsky, Amkodor Pinsk spokesman:
Buying these machines forestry enterprises are solving absolutely all problems. This is cleaning cutting, cutting for the sake of provision and the production of commercial forest. Our machines solve all these problems.

This is one more "know-how" of Pinsk designers. This miniature car is so far only a prototype, but it is already promised a great future in the utilities sector. The loader is able to turn almost on the spot, lift weights, and its controls resemble a videogame.

Boris Khatskalev, head of electrical control systems design bureau at Amkodor Pinsk:
The computer allows you to fully diagnose the machine. You do not have to look under the hood. We can immediately test all the controls sitting here. It is controlled by joysticks. The computer sets all the parameters.

After getting acquainted with the state of affairs at the company, the President traditionally took time to communicate with the staff.

Alexander Lukashenko:
Our engineering does have future. It will not be scaled down. We will go deeper, as you do at the enterprises of your holding company. Deeper inside. It is not that we just import overseas components, assemble here and boast it saying: 'This is Amkodor' or MTZ or anything else.  We have to do it all by ourselves, at our facilities. So we will involve a lot of other companies. We are competitive. We stopped talking about our inability to compete with Germany, Sweden or France. We do not say this now. We can do it not worse than they and we have actually learned how to sell them; we can compete with them.

Global economic instability has touched everyone, and Amkodor is no exception.

But Alexander Lukashenko is sure that the crisis is a good teacher and the lessons will even benefit the economy.

Alexander Lukashenko:
Of course, last year was a difficult one for your association. And the beginning of the year was difficult. You know why. All this is not our problems. Unfortunately, the world is globalized and interdependent. We are very dependent on others, because we have an open economy. But the Russian and Ukrainian markets collapsed and we felt this at once. This is because we had not diversified exports in time.
It is necessary to just go through these times. And if we give up and begin to moan about it, we will bury ourselves alive. This is not our way. The crisis is in our heads. Our products today are in demand all over the world, we must find states who want to buy these products and learn how to sell them. The crisis forced us to learn quickly, and we are doing it.  

The development of the country and the enterprise is the issue that concerns the entire staff, without exception. Alexander Lukashenko, asked about it, stressed that he expects a serious discussion on the most pressing socio-economic issues during the All-Belarusian People's Assembly (due on June 22-23 - note by A special inter-departmental group is finalizing controversial figures due to be presented at the assembly. The document will be presented to the head of state in about 10 days.

Alexander Lukashenko:
The All-Belarusian People's Assembly is needed to determine the prospects. This is what I said to the mechanical engineering industry. But engineering is about making one item, while the All-Belarusian People's Assembly will look at the whole, at the industry, at the pace of development, at priority industries, at how we will develop agriculture, transportation, and construction... We determined yesterday the three main priorities. I asked the government to look wider. Maybe we will have five priorities. This is particularly innovative products, investments into them. The second priority is job creation. We have already begun to do it this year. You have heard we need to create 50,000 jobs in Belarus in 2016. And the third direction is export. We need to rely on exports. Exports mean foreign currency earnings, new markets and in general it means the life of the country because we have an open economy. Here are the three areas that are listed in the economy. There are political issues, and we'll talk about them. This is foreign policy and defense. Decisions have been made on the major issues. I think we need to collect it all and present it to the people so that you know what life in Belarus will be in the coming 5 years.

The President's visit to Amkodor has expanded the geography of Alexander Lukashenko's study of the state of affairs in Belarus' engineering industry. As a result of these trips, the President is going to hold in June a large-scale meeting to discuss in detail the development strategy of the national machine-building complex, including the allocation of credit resources.