The need for financial stability is the most pressing issue for Belarus at present, Alyaksandr Lukashenka told China’s Xinhua News Agency on Sunday.
The construction of a Chinese-Belarusian Industrial Park near Minsk would deal with this issue by increasing Belarus’ exports by about $50 billion a year, Mr. Lukashenka said, according to the presidential press office.
He stressed that Belarus was very interested in the project. “Of course, the People’s Republic of China will play the key role here,” he said. “This is investment by the world’s leading companies working in China today. These are loans by from the People’s Republic of China. Fortunately, China has sufficient foreign exchange reserves. Naturally, it needs to invest them somewhere. And believe me, this is the recognition of the reliability of Belarus in the eyes of the Chinese leadership, Chinese experts, the Chinese people. You would not invest your money in an unstable country.”
Mr. Lukashenka stressed that the Park would not be established merely to assemble something from CKD (complete knock-down) kits. “It should manufacture high-tech products of tomorrow, from the development to the eventual production of specific goods for the market,” he said.
He said that Belarus and China had dealt with all “organizational issues” and were starting to build production facilities and establish research and development centers.
“If the People’s Republic of China is positioning itself today as an empire, in the good sense, if it is a leading state, it cannot develop without Europe, without this center,” Mr. Lukashenka said. “I believe that the People’s Republic of China has chosen Belarus. It has excellent logistics for high-tech and profitable markets.”
An agreement on the establishment of the Chinese-Belarusian Industrial Park was signed in Minsk in September 2011 and ratified by the Belarusian parliament in December that year.
Under Mr. Lukashenka’s edict, the park is to have the status of a “special economic zone” where resident companies will be granted special treatment for 50 years for the purpose of “securing comfortable conditions of doing business and investment attractiveness.”
China is expected to invest $2 billion to $5.5 billion in the project.
Environmental groups have called for the government to pick a different site for the park, saying that it will endanger biological and landscape diversity and increase the level of air pollution in the area not far away from Minsk.