Grodno Oblast governor, Chinese ambassador discuss cooperation possibilities

Cooperation in trade, economy, investments, and humanitarian affairs was discussed as Chairman of the Grodno Oblast Executive Committee Vladimir Karanik met with Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of China to Belarus Xie Xiaoyong, BelTA has learned.

It was the first time the Chinese ambassador had visited Grodno Oblast. During the meeting the parties indicated strong adherence to building up the cooperation potential. They presented their proposals concerning various spheres and discussed promising projects.

Vladimir Karanik noted: “The People’s Republic of China is the third largest trade partner of our region and demonstrates very good growth dynamics. Analysis indicates that this cooperation is mutually beneficial and cooperation figures grow in a very balanced manner. Both export and import figures are on the rise.”

The head of the Grodno Oblast administration sketched out prospects in a number of areas where real opportunities for achieving high results are available. Those include the growth of trade turnover, investment operations, interpersonal communication, and the promotion of cooperation at the level of cultures.

The governor went on saying: “Our trade turnover has been demonstrating positive dynamics for the last few years. We have something to offer to each other. Government agencies simply provide assistance for the sake of enabling mutual access to the markets and for the real sector of the economy to find the niches that are in demand in China. On the other hand, we buy products from China in order to satisfy our market. This balanced cooperation with good dynamics inspires great optimism. We understand that the prospects are colossal. I am convinced that we will be able to talk about increasing its growth not by several percent but several times.”

The chairman of the Grodno Oblast Executive Committee emphasized that this cooperation is based on principles of mutual respect and equality. “The high bar of relations set by Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko and China President Xi Jinping obliges us to move forward. It gives an understanding that our products are needed on these markets and that there is something we can learn and there are practices we can borrow. Our leaders are of the opinion that cooperation should be mutually beneficial.”

According to Vladimir Karanik, the substantial increase in trade turnover (virtually 1.5 times last year) continued in January-April 2024. “The number of the products we sell and buy is rising,” he said. “Our food products and processed products are in demand in China. We can increase deliveries. We have serious opportunities in woodworking and it is possible to find good niches there. We are interested in cooperation in healthcare. In turn, we are interested in the machines and equipment that Chinese partners sell to us. Many Grodno Oblast enterprises already use Chinese equipment and are interested in buying more. Particularly in light of the ongoing investment projects.”

Xie Xiaoyong thanked Vladimir Karanik for the invitation to visit Grodno Oblast. “In 2020 on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization forum in Samarkand Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko and China President Xi Jinping made a joint statement about upgrading the status of Chinese-Belarusian relations to all-weather all-around strategic partnership,” the ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary of China to Belarus stressed. “Our mutual relations made a historic leap. Cooperation in various fields received a powerful stimulus. In 2021-2023 our countries declared thematic years of cooperation between regions of the two countries. We have jointly held over 200 events, which produce fruitful results in the sphere of culture, trade, investments, education, and other areas at the level of regions. Regional cooperation is becoming a new point for advancing our interstate relations.”

According to the head of the Chinese diplomatic mission, China’s third position on the list of Grodno Oblast’s trade partners can be improved. The two countries have a big potential for interaction. Substantial negotiations and a deep exchange of opinions during the meeting will contribute to it. It is also important that five locations in Grodno Oblast and regions of China have already been twinned. It enables conditions conducive to the advancement of cooperation.

Both sides mentioned interest in stepping up cooperation in cultural affairs and tourism. China has the richest history and culture. Grodno Oblast also has something to show and offer to its guests.

Grodno Oblast has signed agreements on interregional cooperation with China’s Gansu Province and Hainan Province. An agreement of intent has been signed with Fujian Province. Ten interregional documents are in effect between Grodno Oblast districts and Chinese provinces. In 2023 Grodno Oblast exported $122.5 million worth of goods to China. The export growth rate amounted to 137.4%.

BelTA – News from Belarus