Lukashenka may visit Beijing with two ’high-priority’ project proposals
Amid a sharp deficit in resources, the Belarusian authorities have stepped-up work on developing investment projects, which could help to reduce imports and boost investment. Apparently, the Belarusian authorities are likely to stake on biotechnology and high-tech agricultural production based on it.
On August 8th, 2016 President Lukashenka signed a decree to establish the CJSC Belarusian National Biotech Corporation, which was tasked to develop “a high-priority, export-oriented and import-substitution investment project titled “Organising high-tech full cycle agricultural production in 2016-2032””.
The project envisages the construction of amino acids production plants (lysine, threonine and tryptophan), compound feed production and oilseed processing, as well as a research laboratory and related infrastructure in Pukhovichi region. Yet the funding sources for the project have not been identified. The decree only referred to the "own funds of the CJSC BNBC" and "credit and borrowed" resources. It is very likely that the authorities will attempt to apply for available funds from the recently opened Chinese loan programmes with the overall value USD 10 billion to USD 15 billion, according to different estimates.
Biotechnology was listed among the basic high-tech industries in the Great Stone Sino-Belarusian industrial park in the Smolevichi district. However, that project, also marked as “high priority”, has been frozen. In order to revitalise that project, the Belarusian authorities are preparing a package of new preferential offers for Chinese investors, which will be included in the previously adopted presidential decree establishing the park. On July 21st, 2016 the government adopted a decree, envisaging a call for experts and introduction of the leading international experience in the field at the Great Stone IP. In particular, new Belarusian Ambassador to China Rudy said that the principles of international law could be applied in the park as an additional investment guarantee.
The Biotech Park project is likely to promote negotiations with potential Chinese partners to fund biotechnology in the industrial park on investment basis, rather than on loan basis, which is more agreeable with the Belarusian authorities. Further negotiations on all aspects of these tow ‘high-priority’ projects in Pukhovichi and Smolevichi regions are likely to take place during the Lukashenka’s visit to Beijing scheduled for September 2016.
President Lukashenka continues to rotate staff and rejuvenate heads of departments and universities following new appointments in regional administrations. Apparently, new Information Minister Karliukevich could somewhat relax the state policy towards the independent media and introduce technological solutions for retaining control over Belarus’ information space. New rectors could strengthen the trend for soft Belarusization in the regions and tighten the disciplinary and ideological control over the student movement in the capital.
President Lukashenka has appointed new ministers of culture and information, the new rector of the Belarusian State University and heads of three universities, assistants in the Minsk and Vitebsk regions.
The new Information Minister Karliukevich is likely to avoid controversial initiatives similar to those former Minister Ananich was famous for, however, certainly within his capacities. Nevertheless, the appointment of Belarusian-speaking writer Karliukevich could be regarded as the state’s cautious attempt to relax environment in the media field and ensure the sovereignty of national media.
The Belarusian leadership has consolidated the trend for mild Belarusization by appointing a young historian and a ‘reasonable nationalist’, Duk as the rector at the Kuleshov State University in Mogilev. Meanwhile, while choosing the head of the Belarusian State University, the president apparently had in mind the strengthening of the ideological loyalty among the teaching staff and students at the main university in order to keep the youth movement at bay. Previously, Korol was the rector of the Kupala State University in Grodno, where he held purges among the disloyal teaching staff.
The trend for the renewal of mid-ranking executives and their rejuvenation has confirmed. The age of the Culture Minister and three new rectors varies from 39 to 44 years old.