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How is Belarus planning to attract Turkish investors?

Andrei Kobyakov and Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Photo of the Council of Ministers of Belarus’ press office

Istanbul has become a global financial center along with London, Zurich and Frankfurt, Belorussian Prime Minister Andrei Kobyakov said while speaking at a Belorussian investment forum in Istanbul on Nov 12.

He said that Belarus has begun to diversify its exports. “In mid-term future we are planning to redirect 1/3 of our exports to new markets. And Turkey may become a new foothold for us,” Kobyakov said.

“We are the biggest exporter of potassium fertilizers. We export over 18% of all such fertilizers in the world. We are also a global leader in the IT sector. Our products are used on the earth, in the air and even in space. We are ready to offer Turkey a wide range of goods – from integral microchips to mining trucks,” the Belorussian prime minister said.

He said that Belarus may set up in Turkey, jointly with local companies, plants for assembling Amkodor special machinery, BelAZ mining trucks, MAZ trucks and buses, MTZ tractors and Homselmash combine harvesters. “Our key advantages are our geographic location, highly qualified personnel, high tech companies, stable social-economic conditions and efficient financial policies. We are also a member of the Eurasian Union – a market with almost 180 million customers, freely circulating goods, services, capital and workforce, unified tariffs and equal business conditions,” Kobyakov said.

Kobyakov also met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. “During the meeting we discussed our bilateral relations, particularly, ways to enlarge our trade and industrial cooperation,” the Belorussian Prime Minister said.

On Nov 11, the National Statistical Committee of Belarus reported that in Jan-Oct 2015 foreign investors invested $8.7bn in the country’s real sector – 25.5% less than a year before. Direct foreign investments totaled $5.5bn or 32.2% less than in Jan-Oct 2014. The key investor is still Russia (41.7% of all foreign investments).

“Exports diversification” has long been proclaimed as one of Belarus’s foreign political priorities. President Lukashenko hopes that contacts with new markets in Latin America, Southeast Asia and the Middle East will liven up the country’s stagnating economy. On Nov 11, Kobyakov visited Pakistan, where he signed an economic cooperation road map. He urged Belarus and Pakistan to increase their trade to $1bn from current $60mn. In the meantime, this year Belarus’s foreign trade has shrunk by 25%. The exports have dropped to $22.46bn or 75.7% of the last year’s exports. The imports have dropped to $21.02bn or 72.4% of the last year’s index. Russia and the European Union continue to be the country’s key trade partners.

As EADaily reported earlier, since 2011 BelAZ’s annual profit has dropped from 165mn to $200,000. In this light, the initiative to set up in Turkey plants for assembling BelAZ mining trucks look to be quite appropriate. Last year MAZ registered a loss of $153mn. In Jan-Aug 2015 it produced just 40% of what it produced a year before. MTZ and Homselmash are also loss-makers. As a result, the outputs of tractors and other vehicles in Belarus have fallen by 38% and 21.4%, respectively.

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