Belarus develops cooperation with Asia
The Belarusian government is studying opportunities for Belarusian issuers on Asian stock exchanges. Belarus and China plan to expand investment cooperation in agriculture. China’s Eximbank will issue a USD 343.9 million loan for the reconstruction of Minsk – Gomel road M-5 / E 271 (Bobruisk – Zhlobin section).
Prime Minister of Belarus Mikhail Myasnikovich, speaking at Russian-Belarusian-Kazakh Business Forum, referring to the economic problems in Europe invited the Customs Union countries to shift the focus on trade and economic cooperation with Asia (including ASEAN).
In the meanwhile, during the official visit to Indonesia and Laos on June 11-14, Belarus’ Foreign Minister Sergei Martynov, met with Secretary General of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Dr. Surin Pitsuwan, with Laos President Choummaly Sayasone, Prime Minister of Laos Thongsing Thammavong, Indonesian and Laotian foreign, trade, industry, transport, defense, research and technology ministers, with the leadership of the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and business communities of both countries.
In turn, the Acting Minister of Agriculture and Foodstuffs of Belarus Leonid Marinich and Chinese Deputy Minister of Agriculture Niu Dun on June 13 discussed enhancement of investment cooperation in the agriculture.
In addition, China continues to increase lending cooperation with Belarus. Thus, Chinese Eximbank will allocate a USD 343.9 million loan for the reconstruction of Minsk – Gomel road M-5 / E 271 (Bobruisk – Zhlobin section). In November 2011 Eximbank issued a USD 340 million consumer loan for the reconstruction of Zhlobin – Gomel section.
Finally, the Belarusian Finance Ministry and Korea Stock Exchange (KRX) on June 12 signed a Memorandum of Understanding. Chairman of the Korea Stock Exchange Kim Bongsoo said that bilateral cooperation will allow sharing Korean stock market experience with Belarus and will create conditions for Belarusian issuers to enter the South Korean financial market.
For reference. In March 2012 the South Korean stock market capitalization reached USD 1.1 trillion. KRX is ranked 9th in the world in terms of listed companies.
Therefore, today Belarus’ foreign policy and trade gradually expand eastwards in order to diversify country’s foreign trade and foreign investment flows against the background of the European and U.S. sanctions.
Over the past year, military-political relations between Minsk and Kyiv have become complicated. Due to their high inertia and peculiarities, this downward trend would be extremely difficult to overcome.
The root cause of the crisis is the absence of a common political agenda in the Belarusian-Ukrainian relations. Minsk is looking for a market for Belarusian exports in Ukraine and offers its services as a negotiation platform for the settlement of the Russo-Ukrainian war, thereby hoping to avoid political issues in the dialogue with Kiev. Meanwhile, Ukraine is hoping for political support from Minsk in the confrontation with Moscow. In addition, Ukraine’s integration with NATO presupposes her common position with the Alliance in relation to Belarus. The NATO leadership regards the Belarusian Armed Forces as an integral part of the Russian military machine in the western strategic front (the Baltic states and Poland). In addition, the ongoing military reform in Ukraine envisages a reduction in the number of generals and the domestic political struggle makes some Ukrainian top military leaders targets in politically motivated attacks.
Hence, the criticism of Belarus coming from Ukrainian military leadership is dictated primarily by internal and external political considerations, as well as by the need to protect the interests of generals, and only then by facts.
For instance, initially, the Ukrainian military leadership made statements about 100,000 Russian servicemen allegedly taking part in the Russo-Belarusian military drill West-2017. Then the exercises were labelled quazi-open and military observers from Ukraine refused to provide their assessment, which caused a negative reaction in Minsk. Further, without citing specific facts, it was stated that Russia was building up its military presence in Belarus.
Apparently, the Belarusian and Ukrainian Defence Ministries have entangled in a confrontational spiral (on the level of rhetoric). Moreover, only a small part of the overly hidden process has been disclosed. That said, third states are very likely to take advantage of the situation (or have already done so). This is not only about Russia.
The Belarusian Defence Ministry officials are restrained in assessing their Ukrainian counterparts. However, such a restraint is not enough. Current military-political relations between Belarus and Ukraine are unlikely to stabilise without the intervention of both presidents.