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Putin pledges billions in trade with Belarus
March 16, 2013, 9:10 pm

Putin says trade with Belarus will reach $50 billion this year [AP]

Putin says trade with Belarus will reach $50 billion this year [AP]

Russian media has reported that President Vladimir Putin met Friday with visiting Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko in St. Petersburg to discuss bilateral relations, and trade and technology transfer.

The talks focused on Russia’s $10-billion investment in Belarus’s first two nuclear power plants, which are will be completed by 2020.

Putin said work on the two nuclear power plants is proceeding ahead of schedule, with the first plant expected to be ready by 2018 and the second by 2020.

Russia and Belarus signed the agreement to build the nuclear power plants in 2011.

Putin and Lukashenko also exchanged views over a range of other economic, environmental and humanitarian issues between the two countries.

“Trade between Russia and Belarus reached $45 billion in 2012, up 10 per cent on 2011, and is expected to reach the $50 billion mark this year,” said Putin.

Putin added that Russia is Minsk’s largest economic partner while Belarus is Russia’s second largest trading partner after Ukraine. Currently over 2,000 Russia-featuring businesses operate in Belarus.

President Putin also pledged some 5 bln rubles to finance 38 joint economic projects in technology, communications, air and space and other spheres this year.

An agreement between the two countries to conduct joint research in Antarctica was also signed.

“This is a fundamentally new direction in our relations, with economic as well as environmental and scientific dimensions,” Putin was quoted by Russian media as saying.

RIA Novosti and Agencies