1 Mar 2023 18:09

Belarus, China agree on trade in services, industrial development strategy and concessional investment loan mechanism

MINSK. March 1 (Interfax) - Belarus and China signed economic documents in Beijing which provide for the creation of a free trade zone for services and investment, the implementation of a comprehensive strategy for joint industrial development and the procedure for using concessional Chinese investment loans.

"Belarus and China will create a free trade and investment zone as soon as this year," a press release on the website of Belarus's Economy Ministry says.

A memorandum of understanding was signed in Beijing between Belarus's Economy Ministry and China's Commerce Ministry which provides for the start of negotiations on access to service markets. "The parties confirmed the completion of the discussion on key provisions of the text of the future international agreement, agreed on the need to immediately begin negotiations on access to service markets and investment, and to complete work on the agreement in 2023," the press release says.

The Economy Ministry also announced the signing of a memorandum with China's International Development and Cooperation Agency on the use of concessional loans from the Chinese government. The document defines the mechanism of interagency cooperation for the implementation of projects with the attraction of concessional Chinese funds, and approves the algorithm for working on project proposals and initiatives from the Belarusian side.

The Belarus Economy Ministry said that 25 projects worth $5 billion have been implemented using government loans from the China under existing loan agreements. "Currently, four projects worth more than $1.5 billion are being implemented and five more initiatives worth more than $500 million are being developed to implement infrastructure projects, purchase equipment and technology," the statement said.

Following talks between Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko and Chinese President Xi Jinping, "a large-scale package of documents on cooperation in various fields was signed in their presence," the BelTA state agency reported. In particular, a comprehensive strategy for joint industrial development, implemented by the Ministry of Industry of Belarus and China's Ministry of Industry and Informatization, was approved, the report said

A protocol was also signed regarding sanitary and phytosanitary requirements for the supply of products from Belarus to China, and a memorandum of understanding in the field of cooperation in agriculture.