Following a Higher State Council meeting of the Union State, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko signed a joint statement, the Kremlin’s press-service reports.
“Following the meeting of the Higher State Council of the Union State, leaders of both countries adopted a joint statement in which they confirmed their common desire to strengthen and expand the strategic partnership between Russia and Belarus,” the statement reads.
As part of this statement, Russia and Belarus adopted a program of concerted foreign policy for 2018—2019, as well as a number of other plans.
Putin noted that last year, trade between their two countries increased by almost a quarter (+23,5%) and reached $32.5 billion. In January through April this year, it increased yet another 18.5%.
“If such positive dynamics continue, we can bring trade between the two countries to the level of $50 billion,” Putin stated. “The volume of Russian accumulated investments into the Belarusian economy exceeds $3.9 billion. Belarusian enterprises, in turn, invested about $620 million into Russia.”
Putin revealed the list of priorities on the Union State’s agenda included improving business climate, removing barriers and restrictions to the free movement of goods, and harmonization of the legal framework. According to him, both countries intend to conduct coherent a macroeconomic, monetary, pricing and tax policy.
Putin pointed out that the Russian Federation provides Belarus with energy—thus, in the first quarter of 2018, 4.5 million tons of oil and 6 billion cubic meters of gas were delivered to Belarus. Russia participates in a program for the modernization of Belarus’ gas system, and is building a Belarusian nuclear power plant.