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Republic

7 July 2011

Belarus not intent on giving up on import completely

SHKLOV, 7 July (BelTA) – Belarus is not going to give up on imports completely, Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko told media on 7 July. In particular, the journalists noted, that both the President and the government stated many times that a drastic contraction in imports can help stabilize the economic situation in the country. Alexander Lukashenko was asked in this respect whether import restrictions might worsen Belarus’ foreign trade relations and lead to conflicts with its foreign economic partners. “I do not think it can provoke any conflicts since we do not put artificial barriers to the import,” Alexander Lukashenko said. In his words, energy resources (oil and natural gas) make up the bulk of the Belarusian import. “Like it or not, we cannot drop it. Although the alternative has already been worked out. Vladimir Semashko is working on it. We have not spoken public about it yet but we do have an alternative to natural gas supplies. Regarding oil, we have already shown. Today we have a choice: if it is cheaper in Russia, then we buy in Russia. If it is cheaper elsewhere, we buy there. We will not be able to get rid of this import,” the head of state said. With regard to imports of components, the President noted that if Belarus-made products are of better quality than the ones produced in other countries, then domestic components are used. At the same time Alexander Lukashenko said that given the shortage of foreign currency, Belarusians have started producing many things at home, opening import-substituting production lines. “But, of course, we will not be able to give up on import completely. We have not set such a goal. It would be very good if we managed to halve the import content in terms of component parts,” the President said and stressed that none of Belarus’ foreign trade partners made any complaints about reduction of purchases by Belarus. As for procurement, Alexander Lukashenko said that what matters most is price and quality. “If the price and the quality are ok, we will buy. We have a common customs area. Tomorrow there will be a single economic space of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia, implying freedom of movement,” the Belarusian leader said.

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