Putin to chair Moscow meeting of Russia-Belarus Union State Council of Ministers

MOSCOW, August 14 (Itar-Tass) —— Russian Prime Minister, Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Russia-Belarus Union State Vladimir Putin will chair a meeting of the Council of Ministers in Moscow on Monday. Prime Minister Mikhail Myasnikovich will lead the Belarusian delegation to the meeting.

The sides will discuss interaction in the Union State, including the fulfillment of the Union State budget, an action plan of the regional group of forces in 2012, the formation of the common scientific and technological space, assistance to small and medium business and development of sport and tourism, the Russian government press service said. There will be a detailed discussion of scientific and technical programs, such as the protection of information resources and the development of new technologies and materials for industries and agriculture.

Putin and Myasnikovich will hold separate negotiations to discuss cooperation in atomic energy, oil refinery, production of mineral fertilizers, car making and joint investment projects.

Russia and Belarus signed the Union State Treaty on December 8, 1999.

A solid legal foundation of the bilateral relations was laid down to ensure dynamic cooperation in various spheres. In all, about 150 interstate and intergovernmental agreements are in effect. The integration processes have led to the creation of a unified customs, trade, economic and migration space. Citizens of Russia and Belarus can exchange visits with domestic passports; they are exempt from customs and border control.

The startup of the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan on January 1, 2010, the adoption of the Customs Union Code and the introduction of the unified customs tariff on July 1, 2011 were important steps towards integration. The unified economic space will start to operate from January 1, 2012.

Bilateral trade and economic relations are developing actively. Trade enlarged by 18.9% to $27.9 billion in 2010 (as against $23.4 billion in 2009).

Trade growth stood at 41.2% in January-June 2011, as compared with January-June 2010. Russian exports to Belarus grew by 40.2%, while Belarusian exports to Russia enlarged by 42.2%. The Russian trade surplus amounted to $5 billion.

In order to support socioeconomic stabilization in Belarus in the transfer to market principles, Russia provided Belarus with preferential state loans ($1.5 billion in December 2007, $1 billion in November 2008, and $500 million in March 2009). This June Belarus received the first tranche of the stand-by loan of $800 million from the Anti-Crisis Fund of the Eurasian Economic Community (EurAsEC). In all, $3 billion will be granted within three years on the condition of market reforms in Belarus.

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