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from 08.12.2017

Union State Council of Ministers session

Belarus asks Russia to make maximum efforts to bring the mutual trade to $40 billion, Belarus’ Prime Minister Andrei Kobyakov said at the Union State Council of Ministers meeting on 8 December.

In January-September 2017 the trade between Belarus and Russia increased by more than 20%. Andrei Kobyakov stated that this year the two countries are expected to reach $28 billion, the level of 2010. It cannot be hailed as an outstanding result, especially taking in account the fact that the mutual trade exceeded $40 billion in the past.

“We need to make every effort to build on the current positive momentum,” Andrei Kobyakov said.

The two countries will continue working out joint measures to remove barriers in mutual trade, liberalize the economic activity. These approaches were taken into account when the priority areas for the Union State mid-term development for 2018-2022 were considered. “This document should become a renewed strategy for the Union State integration. Its implementation will help the two countries tap into their internal reserves for strengthening the Union State relations,” the Belarusian head of government said.

The parties will also consider the Union State budget and its execution. “We must elaborate proposals on the ways of executing the budget efficiently and in full. This, first of all, pertains to Union State programs. The program selection mechanism should be improved. In our opinion, there is also a need to adjust the procedures governing the development and implementation of the Union State programs,” Andrei Kobyakov said.

He also noted that Belarus and Russia will finalize the draft agreement on mutual recognition of visas in the near future.

“We will complete the work on the draft mutual visa recognition agreement together with our Russian colleagues in the near future,” Andrei Kobyakov said. The Union State Council of Ministers is expected to discuss the progress in the formation of the common Belarus-Russia migration space on 8 December.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev confirmed that Moscow hopes to sign the agreement with Minsk. “We hope to sign a document on mutual recognition of visas and reach an agreement on the entry of foreign citizens and stateless persons into the Union State. It is important in the context of the upcoming sports events to be hosted by Russia, namely the 2018 FIFA World Cup,” the Russian PM remarked.

Dmitry Medvedev also said that Belarusians and Russians will enjoy equal rights to employment and education in the Union State of Belarus and Russia.  Unifying legislation in the social sphere should become an important area of work for the next five years. “We will have to enable equal rights of Russians and Belarusians to employment and education. Today we’ve talked about the possibility of equalizing conditions for healthcare services, about additional opportunities for acquiring medical services in Russia and Belarus. All the financial aspects should be polished to make it happen,” noted Dmitry Medvedev.

Speaking about economic cooperation, Dmitry Medvedev stated that the countries were reducing dependence on foreign currency in mutual transactions.

Belarus and Russia approved a number of documents to promote the Union State cooperation following the meeting of the Union State Council of Ministers.

More than 20 documents were signed. The key ones relate to trade and economic cooperation, including the resolution of the Union State Council of Ministers on the priorities for further development of the Union State in 2018-2022, the forecast balances of supply and demand of critical products in 2017, the performance report to the action plan to develop a unified industrial policy.

Security remains one of the priorities of the Belarus-Russia Union State. The documents signed in Gomel include a plan of joint activities to counter terrorism in 2018, a program to enhance border security until 2021, a plan of joint activities to ensure the functioning of the regional group of forces of Belarus and Russia in 2018.

The prime ministers also adopted a resolution on the Union State awards in literature and art in 2017-2018 and other documents in the field of culture.
After the session of the Council of Ministers of the Union State of Belarus and Russia Prime Minister of Belarus Andrei Kobyakov made the statement to media. According to him, Belarus and Russia will continue dismantling barriers and reducing the number of restrictions in mutual trade.

Participants of the session passed the resolution on priority directions and top-priority tasks in further development of the Union State of Belarus and Russia in the medium term (2018-2022). The document stipulates priority avenues of cooperation such as the pursuance of the coordinated macroeconomic policy, industrial policy, and budget policy in addition to efforts meant to advance trade and economic relations.

Plans have been made to work out joint measures to further reduce the number of barriers, exemptions, and restrictions in mutual trade in addition to liberalizing business operation terms, said Andrei Kobyakov.

Participants of the session analyzed the fulfillment of the plan on putting together and implementing a universal structural industrial policy within the framework of the Union State of Belarus and Russia. The measures the plan stipulates have been fulfilled on the whole. “However, considering the importance of the matter, we’ve instructed the relevant ministries to continue working together in the production sector and regularly arrange sessions of the interagency working group on import substitution and industry,” specified the Belarusian head of government.

Besides, participants of the session discussed the formation of the common migration space. As part of the new plan to form this space the Belarusian and Russian interior ministries will sign a protocol on sharing information about Belarusian and Russian citizens, whose interstate travels are restricted. An intergovernmental agreement on information interaction will be signed as well.

A number of documents were adopted to improve fight against terrorism, border security, and the operation of the regional military force for the sake of security and defensive ability of the Union State of Belarus and Russia.

Cooperation in humanitarian affairs was discussed as well. There are plans to use the Union State budget to reconstruct the Brest Fortress memorial and create a memorial in Rzhev, Russia’s Tver Oblast to honor deeds of Soviet soldiers.

Andrei Kobyakov concluded: “The scope of the matters we’ve discussed today was very broad. The relevant decisions have been made. I am convinced that the agreements reached during the session will contribute to the development of our countries and to the stronger Union State.”