_ Chris Devonshire-Ellis, Founding Partner and Chairman, Dezan Shira & Associates. Hong Kong, 15 February 2019.
Belarus, a member of Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), has begun cooperations with Poland, of the European Union, over infrastructure projects as part of China’s Belt & Road Initiative. As I have suggested before, the previously rigidity of national borders and trade blocs when it comes to infrastructure development matters is beginning to become far more fluid as Brussels loses influence in Eastern Europe and designs are cast east to Chinese funding and EAEU Free Trade.
The latest coordination of work within the framework of the Belt and Road initiative was discussed at a meeting of Mikhail Myasnikovich, Chairman of the Council of Belarus,and Mateusz Morawiecki, Prime Minister of Poland. The Belarussian state news agency BelTA reported from the press service of the upper house of the Belarusian parliament. In particular, they discussed joint efforts to implement infrastructure projects and to develop trade and logistics hubs as part of the Belt and Road global initiative.
Also discussed were the performance of the intergovernmental commission and the suggested establishment of a working group on electric energy cooperation. Mutual Investment partnering was another important matter on the agenda.
Myasnikovich stated that in 2018 bilateral trade between Belarus and Poland expanded by 5.3% in 2018 over 2017, and that the two countries are well positioned to further increase bilateral trade. The MPs are willing to help advance Belarus-Poland relations to a higher level. According to them, the recent years have seen considerable progress in restoring mutual trust between the two countries. However, political, economic and humanitarian contacts have made little headway.
The meetings highlight a move away from the influence of Brussels by several eastern European nations, including Poland, increasingly frustrated with, ironically a perceived reduction in sovereign rights, in addition to Brussels enforced migrant problems and meddling in infrastructure contracts involving non-EU partners (such as Chinese SOEs). Brussels has long been wary of both China’s Belt & Road Initiative and has called it “divisive” and “unequal”. It has also placed sanctions on Russia. Quite how Brussels will view the Polish decision to embrace China’s Belt & Road infrastructure plans with Belarus, a member of the heavily Moscow-supported EAEU, remains to be seen.