Belarus, Austria expected to triple trade, double investment
VIENNA. KAZINFORM – The visit of Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko to Austria and the agreements reached at the Belarusian-Austrian business forum are truly historic events, Belarus' Economy Minister Dmitry Krutoi told the media in Vienna, BelTA has learned.
«A historic event and historic agreements. I think that we will be able to at least triple the mutual trade and double investment volumes. Priorities are many,» the minister said.
According to the minister, Austria is the only country with which Belarus has an annual volume of foreign direct investment comparable to the volume of foreign trade. It is expected, therefore, that investment will soon lead to an increase in trade in goods and services.
Dmitry Krutoi stressed the importance of the fact that the Belarusian leader met with representatives of Austrian business personally. They heard firsthand that, if necessary, additional guarantees of investment safety will be provided. The minister emphasized that Belarus has signed international agreements on mutual protection of investments and the country fulfills all its obligations. However, additional guarantees are always important for investors.
Dmitry Krutoi named the joint declaration on cooperation in communication, ICT and 5G broadband network development as one of the most important documents signed during the visit. «Journalists rushed to narrow it down to the development of 5G networks. In fact, the agreement is broader. Austrian partners are interested in the development of the entire infrastructure, including broadband internet, fiber optics. At the presentation their mobile operator A1 spoke a lot about the expansion and diversification of their business in Belarus, focusing not only on mobile communications, but also on the construction of data centers, development of alternative energy and internet broadcasting. They see a huge potential in it,» the minister said.
Dmitry Krutoi added that A1 company has not been granted any exclusive rights. «It expressed the wish to share experience and expertise, providing the necessary technical and economic assistance from the perspective of developing a 5G network in Belarus,» the minister said.
In 2018, the trade between Belarus and Austria amounted to $171.4 million, with exports reaching $28.4 million, imports - $143 million. In January-September 2019, the trade totaled $131.5 million (up 9.2% year-on-year).
Belarus' major exports are metal products, insulated wire and cables, furniture, specific goods, petroleum products. Belarus' import from Austria is dominated by pharmaceutical products, machinery and equipment, fittings and fixtures for furniture and doors, and food products.
In 2018, Belarus exported $116.1 million worth of services to Austria (78% in the transport sector). In January-August 2019, the export surged by more than 20% year-on-year.
Austria is one of the biggest investors in the Belarusian economy. In 2018, the investments equaled $296.7 million. The growth remains in place this year, too, Kazinform refers to BelTA.