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Belarusian position is clear re the FTA with New Zealand, Deputy Minister for Agriculture Print E-mail

MINSK, 29 March (BelTA) – Belarus should look for economic ways to cheapen agricultural products in order to maintain their competitiveness on foreign markets, First Deputy Agriculture and Food Minister of Belarus Leonid Marinich said during an online conference on the BelTA website on 29 March.

“These means are upgrade of our dairy and meat processing plants,” he said. In his words, ample investments into upgrade projects of agricultural companies allowed modernizing their production facilities. “We are expanding the product portfolio; we are ready to offer products with a decent quality and an affordable price,” the First Deputy Agriculture and Food Minister said.

Leonid Marinich noted that much depends on the purchase price established by agricultural producers. “Producers should not stay away; they should work on reducing the prime cost of their products to make them cheaper and more affordable in other countries,” he said.

He noted that now Belarus has to compete with Oceania on the Russian market. “We offer similar prices, but there are objective factors shaping the overall costs,” he said. Belarusian experts went to Australia and New Zealand. “They have good pastures and fences there; sheltered milking parlors are set up in the open air, which means that they spend little on building cattle accommodation,” Leonid Marinich said. Belarus can enhance competitiveness of domestic products by increasing their assortment and developing new products with a high added value. “Domestic companies should not be complacent with what they have achieved, but should keep working on the upgrade of technological process. This is the only way we can successfully compete with New Zealand and other countries,” he said.

"Belarus has got enormous dairy potential. Today an average Belarusian cow produces 4730 litres per year. Our task is to get better results, 6400-6500 litres per year. We know there are enterprises in Belarus that collect 7000 and more. The dairy farm in Snova collects 9800 litres, it is achievable".

Mr Marinich has participated in the talks with the Eurasian Commission in Moscow more than once where the question of the FTA between the Customs Union and New Zealand has been discussed. "Belarusian Ministry has not supported the idea of signing the dairy and meat parts of the document". Belarusian officials presented their arguments to the Kazakh side and gained their support. "The investment that was offered by New Zealand to Russia is insignificant", he said. Belarusian side has received an offer from New Zealand to build 10 dairy farms in Belarus. "But 10 dairy farms will not change much in the country where 1200 dairy farms have been upgraded and 85 new have been recently built. Such projects will allow New Zealand to get maximum financial benefits, i.e. zero customs tariffs at minimum expense. That is why we have not supported the idea. The final decision yet to be taken, but the Belarusian position is clear". He reminded that to sign the FTA with New Zealand all three members of the Customs Union should agree on the document.

 

Stuart Prior, Honorary Consul for Belarus in New Zealand

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