Belarus, Italy to step up investment cooperation

Belarus and Italy intend to boost investment cooperation, Prime Minister of Belarus Sergei Sidorsky said as he met with Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Italy to Belarus Giulio Prigioni on 28 September.

"I am convinced that by the end of this year we will significantly advance in our investment projects," Sergei Sidorsky underlined.

The Prime Minister said that Belarus and Italy are holding a fruitful and intensive dialogue in the economic area. "Belarus and Italy have always had friendly relations both in the economic and humanitarian area," he added. In 2008 the Belarusian-Italian trade reached USD 1.2 billion. "This year saw a drop in the bilateral trade, but it is smaller than the decrease in trade with other countries," the Premier said. He was glad to state that the manufacturing industry and banks of Italy are always ready to cooperate with Belarusian partners. "Our dialogue is multifaceted and this meeting will give an additional impetus to the development of Belarus-Italy relations," he underlined.

According to the Italian Ambassador, the two countries greatly advanced in the humanitarian cooperation and this will serve the base for the expansion of interaction in the political, economic, cultural and other fields. Italy's insurance company Sace is one of the examples of the successful cooperation between the two countries. "All Italian companies rely on the expert opinion of Sace while working with foreign companies. Now we are trying to further the investment cooperation with Belarus to the top areas of the bilateral relations," the diplomat said.

Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini will visit Belarus on 30 September, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Italy to Belarus Giulio Prigioni noted during his meeting with Belarusian Prime Minister Sergei Sidorsky. According to the diplomat, during the visit of the Italian Foreign Minister to Minsk, the sides are expected to sign the bilateral agreement on cooperation in humanitarian area. "This cooperation will be continued including the recuperation of Belarusian children in Italy," he added.

According to Giulio Prigioni, the forthcoming visit will open new possibilities for the cooperation in economy, culture and other avenues. "In the near future, many other documents including those which were discussed during a meeting with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in Gdansk can be signed," the Ambassador said.

Italy has supported Belarus in the Eastern Partnership Program. Italy intends to continue aiding Belarus, setting an example for other European countries. "Today, many countries uphold the same views as Italy does and they are ready to extend close political ties with Belarus," Giulio Prigioni underscored.

In 2008 Italy was one of Belarus' top ten trading partners, ranking 8th in terms of trade turnover and 10th in terms of export volume among non-CIS states. In 2008, the bilateral trade made up USD 1.2 billion, up 45% over 2007. The export soared by 73.8% to reach USD 320.5 million; the import grew by 36.7% to USD 872.4 million.

In 2008 Belarus' major exports to Italy included ferrous metals and products from them, potash fertilizers, cattle leather, oil products, knitted sweaters, lighting equipment. The export was diversified by the supplies of products with a high added value, including hollow seamless pipes; spare parts to machines and equipment; laser, ultrasound and electron-ray machines; equipment for heat treatment of materials, the processing of wood, plastic ware; tires; and lathe machines. Italy's major exports to Belarus included high-tech machines and equipment, chemical substances and materials that are not produced in Belarus, medicines and medical equipment.

In January-July 2009 Belarusian supplies to Italy totaled USD 86.6 million, 42.7% as against the same period of last year. The export of oil products reached USD 33.1 million. In January-July 2009 import from Italy shrank by 12.7% to USD 403.9 million.

As of 1 January 2009, 80 businesses with a share of Italian capital were registered in Belarus, including 49 joint ventures and 31 foreign-owned enterprises. In January -June 2009 Italian investments totaled around USD 1.3 million, including over USD 1 million in direct investments. From 2002 to 2007 Italy invested a total of USD 100.1 million in Belarus; of them USD 7.3 million were direct investments.



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