Belarus and China are discussing the possibility of implementing new large-scale business projects. Mutual interests were talked over during the meeting of the Belarus President with the head of CITIC Group, China's largest corporation, at the Palace of Independence on July 20.
The parties already have successful experience of cooperation. First of all, this is the construction of three cement plants and modernization of Orsha Linen Mill. Now they are creating a company for the production of cars, as well as the first joint investment fund.
Alexander Lukashenko, President of Belarus:
I know how much we have done together here, in Belarus. Your company is one of the largest in the world. And it gives me great pleasure to cooperate with a company like yours. You know about the strategic nature of relations between the People's Republic of China and Belarus. And the work of your company in Belarus is organically woven into the fabric of these relations.
In the near future (probably in September), we will hold high-level talks in Beijing with my counterpart Xi Jinping. We have a broad agenda, a lot of issues that we need to agree and decide on.
I will not deny that we very much hope that by this time, our ministries, our businesses, and companies in negotiations with your company, will find not only a topic for further talks but also prepare draft documents on the implementation of serious long-term projects in the two countries. First of all, in Belarus.
CITIC Group is not just a Chinese corporation, is a world-wide business giant.
CITIC Group is the largest industrial trade and investment Chinese state-owned corporation. Established in 1979, it now includes 44 subsidiaries and banks. The corporation employs 160,000 people. Since 2009, for seven consecutive years, the corporation has been included in the ranking of the 500 largest companies in the world. In 2015, it took 186th place. The company's revenue exceeded $55 billion.
Eloquent is the unprecedented fact that in 1993, the company's president Rong Yiren became deputy chairman of the People's Republic of China.
The company's most famous project is the national stadium Bird's Nest, which hosted the summer Olympics of 2008. The current president of the company Wang Jun avoids media popularity. Saying that he rarely gives interviews he still shares with Belarusian journalists the company's general plans.
Wang Jun, head of CITIC Group (China):
CITIC Group is a global investment company. And we see great opportunities for business in Belarus. Your advantage is government support, high level of staff and production costs.
And also Belarusian industrial base. This is a good opportunity to enter Western markets. The company is currently implementing projects in China and abroad for a total amount of $40 billion.
The company has already implemented several projects in Belarus, among which is the construction of the automotive plant BelGee (promised to finish by the end of 2016) and the modernization of Orsha Linen Mill (will be completed before the end of June 2017).
And this is one of Belarusian cement plants. This is also a joint project with the Chinese corporation.
Vladimir Korchevsky, CEO of the cement plant:
Participation was very serious, because they gave money and staff. And they built it all here. The designing and equipment is also theirs.
The enterprise is almost 100% loaded. Stocks are insignificant. 40% of the cement produced is exported, mainly to Russia.
The current visit to Belarus is a new page of cooperation. In Kolodishchi near Minsk, a joint plant to produce trucks and power tractors will be built. A tractor assembly plant will be created in Novopolotsk. A memorandum on the establishment of an agricultural holding company has been signed too.
Another form of Belarusian-Chinese cooperation is the creation in Belarus of the first interstate investment fund.
The main requirement of the Belarusian President is that the products made should carry high added value, be high-tech in nature and at the same time inexpensive. And before production facilities are built, the sides need to find markets.
New forms of cooperation, for sure, will be discussed during the visit of Alexander Lukashenko to China. Meetings between the two leaders have become a good tradition.
May 2015: Alexander Lukashenko welcomes president Xi Jinping at the Palace of Independence. The heads of state agree on the Chinese credit for Belarusian businesses. A few months later, a return visit took place. Mid-2016: the two leaders meet at the SCO summit in Uzbekistan. In the busy schedule, they find time for a meeting. It is this interest of the heads of state that allows increasing economic indicators.
The trade turnover between Belarus and China has already exceeded $3 billion. According to the results of 2015, it amounted to $3.3 billion. And it is almost 103% compared to 2014.
And if we go back in history, we will see that over the last 20 years, the trade has increased by almost 100 times. However, this is not the final point in Belarus-China cooperation.