New player on potash market
On June 17th, 2016, Belarusbank and China Development Bank signed a loan agreement for USD 1.4 billion to finance the construction of Slavkali mine with capacity of 2 million tons based on Nijinsky potash deposit. The project’s total cost is estimated at USD 1.7 billion and Belarusbank has to raise the remaining funds. The project would increase imports of equipment and labour from China, as the general contractor is a Chinese company, as well, it will create additional jobs in construction in the Minsk region. After the plant is completed, up to 1500 new jobs may be created. A new player will emerge on the potash market, which will lead to some changes in shares among the largest market players. Slavkaly will not compete with Belaruskali as both companies are likely to coordinate their activities on the international market.
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.