The government tries for Chinese FDI
Given the SWAP agreement between the Chinese and the Belarusian National Banks does not work (Chinese exporters cannot return the claimed VAT back in Yuan), the Belarusian authorities have proposed to China to establish a joint industrial park in Belarus hoping to attract direct investments worth at least USD 1-1.5 billion.
An agreement concerning the creation of the park between the Economy Ministry of Belarus and the “Chinese Engineering Corporation CAMC” was signed on 11 October 2010 during the visit of Alexander Lukashenko to China. However a draft decree has been prepared only recently.
The increased cooperation and trade with China so far only results in deterioration of the Belarusian trade balance and in the growth of debt in the corporate sector. The government wants to change the type of cooperation with China and benefit from China’s FDI. However it is only dreaming and planning, given the sluggishness of the government officials, the current currency crisis and the fact that Chinese are focused on export of their goods and services rather than investment, ergo, joint industrial park even if it is established, will not be functioning this year. Moreover, the money will be allocated in tranches. All in all, the ongoing Belarusian issue with financing of the deficit will not be solved (also concerning the trade with China) or the more so, the economic crisis.
The Belarusian authorities regard the Catholic conference as yet another international event to promote Minsk as a global negotiating platform. Minsk’s proposal to organise a meeting between the Roman-Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church is rather an image-making undertaking than a serious intention. However, the authorities could somewhat extend the opportunities for the Roman-Catholic Church in Belarus due to developing contacts with the Catholic world.
Minsk is attempting to lay out a mosaic from various international religious, political and sportive events to shape a positive image of Belarus for promoting the Helsinki 2.0 idea.
Belarus’ invitation to the head of the Holy See for a meeting with the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church should be regarded as a continuation of her foreign policy efforts in shaping Minsk’s peacekeeping image and enhancing Belarus’ international weight. The Belarusian authorities are aware that their initiative is unlikely to find supporters among the leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow. In Russia, isolationist sentiments prevail.
In addition, for domestic audiences, the authorities make up for the lack of tangible economic growth with demonstrations of growth in Minsk’s authority at international level through providing a platform for religious, sportive and other dialogues.