Belarus and Chinese Exim Bank signed an agreement on a number of lending projects worth over $ 1 billion. In particular, they signed an agreement to provide consumer credit of USD 654 million to build a plant for the production of bleached sulphate cellulose at JSC “Svetlogorsk”.
A loan agreement for USD 340 million was also signed to finance the reconstruction of the road M-5/E271 Minsk-Gomel. Also, an agreement was concluded regarding the project “Electrification of Gomel-Zhlobin-Osipovichi and Zhlobin-Kalinkovichi” for USD $ 64 million (first stage).
Previously adopted plans and programs regarding modernization of enterprises and infrastructure needed to be implemented to an extent. In this regard, the Chinese loans are fairly accessible. However, besides positive aspects, there are negative. It increases the total credit debt and external debt of enterprises and the government. Loans need to be repaid, for instance, “Belenergo”, received USD 3 billion of Chinese loans in the past, now it has a very big problem repaying it. The dependency on Chinese loans and China in particular is increasing. In addition, Chinese loans mean that 80-90% of the money will return to Chinese companies. Also, experts often complain about the lack of transparency of transactions, as well as about high (European level) costs for Chinese quality of services.
Last week, Belarusian Foreign Minister Makei participated in the foreign ministers’ meeting of the Eastern Partnership and Visegrad Group initiative hosted by Warsaw. The Belarusian FM emphasized Belarus' interest in cooperation in the transport sector, which could be due to Belarus’ desire to export electricity surplus after Belarus finished construction of the nuclear power plant in Ostrovets. Minsk expressed concerns about Warsaw’s stance on the Belarusian NPP, as it refused to buy electricity from Belarus and supported Vilnius’ protest on this issue. Following accusations by the Belarusian leadership and the state media against western states, including Poland, of training "nationalist militants", Minsk did not agree on the visit of the European Parliament deputies from Lithuania and Germany to Belarus and to the NPP construction site near Ostrovets in particular. In addition, the Belarusian authorities have stepped up efforts to enforce education in Russian in Polish-language schools in Grodno and Vaukavysk. Should a rift in Belarusian-Polish relations persist, the Belarusian authorities are likely to step up the pressure on the Polish-speaking minority in Belarus.