On 4 November, Mogilev hosted the 10th Belarusian-Lithuanian Economic Forum. The Forum, which already became a tradition, was organized with the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Belarus, the Mogilev Oblast Executive Committee, and the Confederation of Lithuanian Industrialists. A lot of business meetings and discussions on development of economic cooperation between business people of the Republic of Lithuania and representatives of the Ministries of Economy, Foreign Affairs, Agriculture and Food, Transport and Communications, Energy, Natural Resources and Environment Protection of the Republic of Belarus, the State Customs Committee of the Republic of Belarus, Belneftekhim Concern, as well as Belarusian enterprises took place at the event. The plenary session of the Forum was attended by the Prime Ministers both of Lithuania and Belarus: Algirdas Butkevičius and Mikhail Myasnikovich.
According to the Head of the Belarussian Government Mikhail Myasnikovich, Belarus and Lithuania share a common history, culture, and are united by close economic ties. It gives the opportunity for successful cooperation: “We enjoy good trade and economic relations. It would be great, however, if we paid more attention to long-term economic cooperation. First of all, it could be made possible by establishing joint companies through a share capital. These are those points of no return that we should come through in our bilateral cooperation”, said the Premier adding that Belarus looks forward to further normalization of relations with the European Union.
Myasnikovich also suggested that Belarus and Lithuania need to set up large transport and logistics companies and centres. According to the Prime Minister, Belarus and Lithuania should expand the transport and logistics system in order to create a joint logistics network to “Eastern direction” and to penetrate the markets of China, Mongolia, and countries of Central Asia. “I believe that we need to advance from small near-border traffic to the establishment of large transport and logistics companies and centres. We have positive dynamics in the loading of Klaipeda Port where a Belorussian company Belaruskali bought a stock of shares of one of the terminal operators. We have good results in railway transportation, however now we need to ramp up road transportation and create relevant infrastructure,” said the Premier.
Other speakers at the Forum noted that in a time, when such Forums were held, considerable success has been attained in various areas of joint activity. However the speakers also noted the critical need to go further, i. e. to enhance relationships through a strengthened long-term cooperation. Both Lithuanian and Belarusian representatives expressed proposals to establish joint enterprises with joint share capital and discussed areas, in which the greatest economic effect can be achieved, inter alia, in the fields of logistics and deep processing of agricultural raw materials. Despite the fairly active cooperation in the industrial field, this niche, according to the Prime Minister Myasnikovich, has a huge space for long-term projects. The Belarusian Prime Minister invited Lithuanian companies to participate in the industrial park Great Stone, which is being created near the airport Minsk together with Chinese partners. Belarus also considered promising cooperation in the fields of informatics and communications, development of agroindustrial cooperation, including establishment of joint ventures for the deep industrial processing of agricultural raw materials.
In turn, the Lithuanian side is interested in attracting foreign investors to projects aimed at the reconstruction of residential homes and office buildings to reduce their energy consumption. The Group of Companies ARVI announced their intention to build on the territory of the Mogilev Oblast a turkey farm with a complete production cycle and a plant for processing animal waste.
The development of interregional cooperation is also characterized by sustainable and positive dynamics. At this point, 70 agreements on cooperation in trade, economic and humanitarian areas have been signed between different regions and cities of the two countries. The parties expressed their intention to continue to strengthen friendly and mutually beneficial economic relations between Lithuania and Belarus and to assist in the realization of the scheduled plans at Government level.
Lithuania is one of the most important European partners of Belarus in foreign trade and investment areas. In 2013, Lithuania was ranked as the 8th biggest trading partner of Belarus, and was the 5th in the volume of exports. Last year the bilateral trade exceeded USD 1.5 billion; Belarusian export to Lithuania that amounted to USD 1.1 billion, and import – to USD 0.5 billion. Thanks to the constructive and mutually beneficial cooperation between Lithuania and Belarus in the sphere of transport and transit, the volume of bilateral trade in services increased by 20% in 2013 compared with the previous year and amounted to USD 750 million. The volume of Lithuanian investments in Belarus has increased for more than three times compared with 2010 (in 2013, it amounted to USD 178.5 million).
The annual Belarusian-Lithuanian Economic Forum is held alternately in Belarus and Lithuania. The Forum provides an effective platform for discussing a broad range of economic issues, joint investment projects, and negotiations between representatives of the business circles of the two countries. The present 10th Forum was held within the framework of the 7th International Investment Forum “Mogilev Oblast – a Path to Success.”