Belarusian ambassador says his top priority is to help remove deficit in trade with Russia
"As a matter of fact, the Belarusian president has set a key task to spare no effort to remove serious trade deficit. Our external debt amounts to 40% of the GDP. It is not a dangerous level yet but is nearing it, mostly because we have negative balance of trade with Russia," he said in an interview with TASS.
"In the first ten months of 2018, trade deficit increased by 3.5 billion US dollars on the same period in 2017 due to hiking prices on oil and oil products. If the tax maneuver is fully implemented, we will have to overpay an extra of three billion US dollars a year," he said. "As for the gas prices, we want them in the long run to approach Russia’s domestic prices by the moment of establishing a common energy market in 2025."
On the other hands, in his words, the two countries should find a solution to the problem of non-discrimination of Belarusian products on the Russian market. "It is not right when Russia’s agricultural watchdog imposes sanctions bringing down our exports of meat and dairy products by 650 million US dollars. There are questions about supplies of machinery," Semashko noted.
He said that in an effort to resolve these problems, Belarus and Russia may initiate various joint projects. Thus, in his words, seven core enterprises have been chosen for these purposes. They are Russia’s Rostselmash, Kamaz, GAZ and the Kirov Tractor Works and Belarus’ MTZ, MAZ and Gomselmash. "Let us analyze the conditions they are operating in Belarus and in Russia and create equal conditions. In several years, we will be able to see the results of their work. In the long run, it will be good for the end-use customer and, hence, for both of our states," he stressed.
Vladimir Semashko was appointed Belarus’ ambassador to Moscow in November 2018. Prior to that, he was Belarusian Energy Minister in 2001-2003, First Deputy Prime Minister in 2003-2014, and Deputy Prime Minister in 2014-2018.