MINSK – Belarus is ready to supply vehicles, machines, and equipment to Russia's Pskov Oblast and is ready to cooperate with the region in agriculture. Prime Minister of Belarus Roman Golovchenko made the statement as he met with Pskov Oblast Governor Mikhail Vedernikov on 28 September, BelTA has learned.
The official noted: “The first thing we offer is to supply Belarusian vehicles, machines, and equipment to Pskov Oblast. We know that Pskov Oblast needs to renew its vehicle fleet, primarily in the region's capital.” The city of Pskov alone needs 140 new vehicles. About 35 MAZ buses are in use in the region already. A MAZ dealership won a tender in September for the delivery of another 17 buses.
Apart from that, a MAZ bus powered by a gas engine is being trialed in Pskov. “You have the capacity to liquefy natural gas. It makes the region very promising for switching passenger vehicles to cheaper fuel,” the prime minister believes.
Agriculture is another direction of cooperation. Pskov Oblast specializes in meat animal farming and demonstrates good figures in growing potatoes, vegetables, and some fodder crops. “Pskov Oblast is one of the key players on the Russian pork market. We know that you are about to finish the implementation of the relevant government program. We are eager to learn whether you intend to continue this program and how we could cooperate from the point of view of offering experience or certain agricultural technologies that Belarus takes pride in. We are ready to step up our participation either within the framework of a government program or via cooperation with specific commercial entities,” Roman Golovchenko suggested.
The Belarusian side is ready to offer modern machines, tractors, grain harvesters, fodder harvesters, and grain-drying complexes to Pskov Oblast farmers.
Roman Golovchenko noted that various financial tools, including leasing schemes and subsidized interest rates on loans, can be used to sell Belarusian machines, vehicles, and equipment to Pskov Oblast. He added that Belarus will start making modern combined feed within the next 1-2 months. The new product can also be sold to Pskov Oblast.
Roman Golovchenko suggested cooperation in civil engineering. He mentioned that Belarusian construction companies had already built entire city blocks and social infrastructure objects in Russia. He believes Pskov Oblast may be interested in the construction of schools, kindergartens, and hospitals, including using standard designs that take into account Russian standards. Roman Golovchenko added that depending on the situation, the Belarusian side is ready to grant loans for such projects against guarantees of municipal authorities.
Roman Golovchenko also mentioned drinking water purification programs and household waste recycling programs as possible options for cooperation in civil engineering. “We hope you will give us some tips about where our enterprises and government agencies should work harder in order to achieve results in the form of higher trade and the implementation of joint projects,” he added.
Roman Golovchenko pointed out the rather intensive exchange of visits recently: a meeting of the heads of state took place, a Russian government delegation led by Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin visited Minsk. “Certainly, all of that is projected onto cooperation between enterprises and organizations,” he believes.
In 2019 Belarus' trade with Pskov Oblast totaled $121 million, 12% up on 2018. Yet according to Roman Golovchenko, the pandemic has had an effect on the volume of cooperation. In January-July 2020 the bilateral trade dropped by 16%. Roman Golovchenko is convinced that it is a temporary change and Belarus and Pskov Oblast have all the opportunities and resources to return to last year's figure and surpass it by a large margin.
In turn, Pskov Oblast Governor Mikhail Vedernikov said he believes that there are good opportunities for cooperation in trade in agricultural machines and passenger vehicles. “As much as RUB1 billion has been allocated this year for renewing the bus fleet. We are buying 249 buses. We thought long and hard who would supply the buses. In the end we decided that Belarusian MAZ will be one of the suppliers,” he added.