_ Igor Petrishenko, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Belarus to Russia. Minsk, 3 January 2018.
Work to prepare the creation of common energy markets will continue in 2018. made the statement on the air of the TV channel BelRos, BelTA has learned.
A lot of work needs to be done to advance Belarus’ relations with Russia in 2018. First of all, we hope we will continue working to establish common markets of natural gas, electricity, and oil products. In order to get ready to implement the plans on schedule, in order to let our economies truly feel all the advantages that integration projects bring.
We should also continue working to dismantle barriers and restrictions that unfortunately exist. Those are primarily related to agribusiness — shipments of our foods to Russia. The relevant roadmap has been drafted. The Belarusian Agriculture and Food Ministry and the Russian Agriculture Ministry are in vigorous negotiations. We should focus and produce a concrete result in order to create a comfortable environment for our agricultural companies to work on the Belarusian-Russian market and the market of the entire Eurasian Economic Union.
The creation of common energy markets is one of the goals set by the Eurasian Economic Union Treaty and the plans to implement the document. Problems have been addressed with regard to regulations and taking into account the thorough discussion during the meeting of the presidents of Belarus and Russia in Saint Petersburg on 3 April 2017. Belarusian and Russian government experts have been instructed to prepare the relevant methods as part of the efforts to form the common natural gas market. Since Belarus and Russia have advanced farthest in oil and gas industry cooperation, we are the ones to work out these methods in a way that takes into account conditions and approaches of the countries, which offer energy resources, and the countries, which consume them. In the end we should be able to create an equal competitive environment, which will treat companies from the Russian Federation and those from Belarus equally.
Relations with regions of Russia advanced fast in 2017. About 160 mutual visits were arranged in 2017, with some 220 fairs held. The forum of regions of Belarus and Russia reached new heights after the heads of state decided to get involved. The fact increases the level of responsibility of participants of the event. The summer forum resulted in the signing of 77 bilateral documents, which is a serious figure. Contracts worth about $450 million were signed.
It is necessary to keep in mind and analyze the entire set of factors, including the sanctions Russia is subjected to. Belarus and Russia sometimes face challenges. They represent a test of endurance for our union relations. This is why we should adapt all the Union State mechanisms to the current challenges and threats and continue developing this project.
Trade figures are a good indicator of the advancement of the relations. Belarus-Russia trade reached $26 billion in January-October 2017. Russia accounts for about 51.3% of Belarus’ trade. Belarus is in Russia’s top five foreign trade partners. Only China, Germany, and Netherlands are ahead of Belarus on that list.
It is important to continue meetings of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Union of Belarus and Russia, the Council of Ministers of the Union State of Belarus and Russia, the Forum of Regions, the Supreme State Council of the Union State, and other events, which were held in 2017.