_ Alexander Lukashenko, President of the Republic of Belarus. Minsk, 2 March 2018.
Belarus should steadfastly defend its interests in the Eurasian Economic Union.
It is getting ridiculous. Mass media crack jokes about our union, in which the attitude to member states is tougher than the attitude to outsiders. I am not talking about milk, which became a barefaced political instrument only recently. We can’t even sell our cement freely. Now that’s an economic union we need!
I also criticize the work of Belarus’ representatives in the Council of the Eurasian Economic Commission. Why do they bother imitating work if only problems of other countries get resolved? No problem of ours has been addressed. This is why you should choose one or two serious issues for 2018 and keep hammering it until they are resolved.
Speaking about efforts to increase export on the whole, the problem of commodity diversification and geographical diversification had not been resolved yet. It is a matter of security today. What are we waiting for? In 2017 five countries received 71% of Belarus’ total export although the figure was 69% one year before that. The government tells me that Russia’s share has been reduced. But it is only math. Certainly, the share will drop if the oil products, which are sold to Europe, get more expensive.
The government is instructed to decide within the shortest period of time possible how export would be bolstered. If with a weak ruble and low salaries, then I am dead set against it. Do you want Belarus to become a third-world country? Don’t give me financial reasons. The National Bank tells me that bank loans to the mechanical engineering industry exceed their export increase by half.
Although export is a priority in the development of the country, no new approaches and recommendations have been worked out yet. Do you think someone waits for us? If new instruments are necessary, go ahead and submit proposals. I have not turned down a single export initiative.
Concerning export diversification, I remind you that I had never said that withdrawal from the Russian market was the idea. But we shouldn’t cling only to this market when competitors try to push us out and do so using uncompetitive methods at that. Particularly if the situation is exploited for political goals. No profit is worth independence.
If other markets can produce the same profits or slightly less than that, then you should spend your effort on fighting economic competition instead of struggling against people like Sergei Dankvert, Head of the Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance of Russia.