Trade and Investment
Economic and commercial cooperation with Belarus has been growing steadily ever since its independence in 1991. Two-way trade registered a good increase from US$ 71.97 million in 2002 to a high of US$ 603.72 million in 2009. However, after hovering around US$ 500 million till 2012, bilateral trade got to US$ 403 million in 2014 primarily because smaller import of Potash fertilizer by India and difficult economic situation in Belarus. The trade balance remains in favour of Belarus. Imports of Potash from Belarus remained high which is the second most important source for India’s requirements of Potash fertilizer.
Pharmaceuticals, oil and gas, agriculture, fertilizers and food processing have been identified as areas of high potential. Both countries can also expand their links in a range of services such as IT, healthcare, financial services, transport and logistics.
As for the energy sector, India has participated in the reconstruction of Grodno power plant in Belarus.
The potential for increased cooperation is considerable which needs to be explored, identified and exploited. It offers promising market for India’s pharmaceutical and chemical products, automobile and knowledge-based enterprises. There are good possibilities of investments and joint ventures, particularly in view of the Belarusian industrial and technological strength in manufacturing giant tyres, agro-industrial machinery, mining equipment, and heavy-duty road construction machinery and also the disinvestment process in Belarus. Belarus desires to develop its own pharmaceutical production unit aimed at import substitution. Dairy and agro based industry have outdated machinery and technology and need investments for up gradation. There are a number of projects in power generation and power transmission sector where Indian companies could participate.
The necessary mechanism including India-Belarus Inter-Governmental Commission for Economic, Trade, Industrial, Scientific, Technological and Cultural Cooperation (IGC) is in place. The 6th meeting of the IGC has been held in Delhi on 24 July 2013. A business delegation of companies from Gomel Oblast visited New Delhi in March 2014 to discuss cooperation in the manufacture and supplies of agricultural machinery, production and delivery of foodstuff and textiles, S&T, education and training. The visit was organized by Belarusian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. A delegation of businessmen led by the Minister of Industry of Belarus went to India in May 2015. They also signed a cooperation agreement with FICCI. Indian business delegation also visited Belarus on 2-4 June 2015 and signed many agreements with Belarussian companies.
The Hon’ble Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman visited Minsk, Belarus, from 6-7 September 2015 to co-Chair the 7th Meeting of India-Belarus Inter-governmental Commission (IGC) on Trade, Economic, Scientific, Technological and Cultural Cooperation. MOS had a meeting with Belarusian President H.E. Mr. Alexander Lukashenko, besides meetings with her counterpart and Chairman of the Belarusian-part of the Commission, Minister of Industry Mr. Vitaly Vovk and Chairman of the Belarusian Council of the Republic Mr. Mikhail Myasnikovich. MOS also recalled the allocation of a credit line of US$ 100 million during the visit of the President. She expressed hope that this will be used in areas of common interest. Protocol on Trade, Economic, Scientific, Technological and Cultural Cooperation was signed. Many other issues like simplification of visa procedures for business travelers, setting up a joint working group to discuss issues related with pharmaceutical sector, cooperation in new areas like tobacco, oil and gas exploration, agriculture and light industrial products, were highlighted in the Protocol. A new target for bilateral trade to reach US$ 1 billion was set to be achieved by 2018. The Government of India granted Market Economy Status to Belarus in 2015.
The bilateral trade figures (in US$ million) are as under:
Year Belarusian Export Belarusian Import Total
2011 374.712 173.094 547.806
2012 262.217 232.214 494.431
2013 169.871 181.441 351.312
2014 215.086 187.623 402.709
2015 317.000 128.500 445.500
There is keen interest on both the sides in further strengthening and diversifying economic and commercial interaction between India and Belarus.
BHEL has supplied and installed equipment and machinery for Grodno Power Project II in June 2013. Belarusian side has shown interest in engaging Indian companies in its mining sector. Belarusian company Amkodor is developing equipment suited for Indian conditions. In 2011, Belaz signed an MoU with an Indian company Enrika for establishing a joint venture for servicing the Belarusian dump trucks in India. Four dump trucks have been exported to India in 2012. Belarus participated in the India International Trade Fair in November 2012 as ‘Partner Country’. With 60 companies present, Belarus was the largest foreign participant. This is expected to result in a major boost to bilateral trade and economic relations.
The trade basket, some details of which are given below, is limited:
India’s exports to Belarus: India’s exports to Belarus presently include medicines, raw tobacco and tobacco wastes, cotton yarn, electric transformers, antibiotics, extracts of coffee/tea, rice, compounds of carbonic acid, ferrous metal goods, etc.
India’s imports from Belarus: India’s imports from Belarus include Potash fertilizers, Nitrogen fertilizers, nylon cord materials for tyres, artificial threads, hot rolled rods, rubber wastes/off-cuts and scrap, raw iron or alloy-free steel, pneumatic rubber tyres and tubes, polyamides in primary forms, polycarboxilic acids and their anhydrides, etc.