India and Belarus, a landlocked Eastern European country known for its stunning medieval architecture, oil resources and lush forests, are set to ramp up their economic and security ties during Belarus President A.G. Lukashenko’s ongoing visit to India.
The president’s visit is the high point of celebrations of the 25th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic ties between India and Belarus. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will hold wide-ranging talks with the Belarus leader, in New Delhi on September 12.
“During the visit, the two sides are expected to discuss bilateral cooperation in defence & security, trade & investment, science & technology and people-to-people exchanges. They are also likely to exchange views and assessments on regional and multilateral issues of mutual interest,” said India’s external affairs ministry in a statement.
The focus will be on upscaling economic and energy partnership. Belarus is thousands of miles away from India, but increasingly, it’s playing an important role in the country’s food security. “Fertilizers are the major imports from Belarus and an important element for our agriculture. I will not be wrong if I say that Belarusian fertilizers ensure India’s food security,” said Pankaj Saxena, India’s ambassador to Belarus.
The Belarusian-Indian Business Forum in Delhi is expected to map the way ahead for expanding economic partnership in key areas, including pharmaceuticals, food industry, trade and investments, infrastructure projects, IT and services, healthcare, financing activities, mining industry, education, and biotechnologies. India-Belarus bilateral trade was estimated to be about $400 million in 2014-2016, with Belarus posting a trade surplus.
“Several years ago the two countries have developed a roadmap to develop cooperation in the mining industry and interregional ties. Today we can talk about concrete results and promising projects that will be implemented in the near future and will create a basis for our further sustainable trade and economic development,” Belarusian ambassador Vitaly Prima said.
India has also expressed its interest in signing a free trade agreement with the Eurasian Economic Union.
There are good prospects for the supplies of equipment for the Indian mining industry. The two sides are currently engaged in discussions over setting up of a plant to assemble Belarusian haul trucks in India. “According to our information (the tender has not been announced yet), it will make up about 250 vehicles,” said Mr Prima. “We plan to conclude a number of memorandums, agreements and contracts on the delivery and joint production of mining and agricultural equipment, the pharmaceutical industry, oil extraction, tourism and education,” he added.
India is also expected to scale up energy cooperation with Belarus. In August 2017 Belorusneft successfully completed the first joint project to rehabilitate Digboi oil field. The company is working to open a representative office in India.
Defence cooperation is expected to receive a major push and discussions on cultural, humanitarian and tourism will also be on the agenda.
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