Exploit the unused potential

In March this year, 25 years have passed since the establishment of diplomatic relations between Belarus and Poland. This country is an important trading partner of Belarus due to the geographical position that has developed strong international relations over many centuries. Konrad PAVLIK, the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Poland to the Republic of Belarus, tells about the prospects for increasing mutual trade, investment cooperation, the opportunity to develop cross-border cooperation, and Belarusian goods that can take a worthy place on the shelves of Polish stores. 

— Mr. Ambassador, trade and economic relations are the basis of interaction between our countries. How do you assess their condition at the present stage?

— Figures speak best about the state of our trade and economic relations. I am glad that in the seven months of 2017, compared with the same period last year, there was an increase in mutual trade turnover by 9.1% to $ 1.41 billion US dollars (according to Poland).

In 2016, the trade turnover between Poland and Belarus was almost at the same level as in 2015, decreasing by only 0.7%. But for the sake of objectivity, it should be noted that 2015 was a year of a sharp decline in trade turnover - by 28%, from $ 3 billion to $ 2.2 billion.

Today, Poland is ranked 4th and 5th in the list of the largest trading partners of Belarus. In the middle of last year, for a short time, our country ranked third, giving way only to Russia and Ukraine. However, the rise was not associated with an increase in commodity turnover: in 2016, Belarus and Poland experienced a less noticeable decrease in commodity turnover compared with other major trading partners of your country.

In general, the difference in the volumes of mutual trade of Belarus with Poland, China, Germany is insignificant. Therefore, Poland may well re-appear in the list of the largest trading partners after Russia and Ukraine. The potential of our economies allows us to do this.

I believe that in trade and economic relations we should strive to return at least to the 2014 indicators. With the current economic development and the dynamics of mutual trade, we can within one or two years, return to three billion dollars. With an increase in the openness of the Belarusian economy, mutual trade can increase to $ 5–10 billion US dollars. But this, of course, are theoretical calculations. In reality, the dynamics of our cooperation depends on a number of different factors. We need to be optimistic and work to increase mutual trade turnover. The influx of foreign direct investment can have a significant impact on mutual trade indicators.

— In your opinion, is it worth expecting a significant influx of Polish investments in the Belarusian economy in the near future?

— Poland is one of the main investment partners of Belarus. In terms of investment in 2016, we are among the leaders, and today Poland is about 10th in the list of main investors in the economy of Belarus. We note the presence of interest in the Belarusian market from Polish investors, so I think we will remain among the leaders. In the coming years, I hope, we will be in the top five largest investors in Belarus.

Read the full version of the article in the magazine Market conditions. Published issues of the journal can be purchased in the editorial office.