Belarus is determined to strengthen economic ties with Latvia, Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko said as he met with Minister of Foreign Affairs of Latvia Edgars Rinkevics on 26 July, BelTA has learned.
Top on the agenda were economy and trade. The bilateral trade of nearly $600 million is too small taking into consideration the capacities of the two countries, Aleksandr Lukashenko is convinced.
“I would not want politics to dominate the economic agenda; however, if some countries do not understand us and if this affects the Belarusian economy, we will look for better options. I am very glad that we have no big problems with you, your country, the leadership and people of this good Baltic country. Indeed, you cannot disregard the position of the European Union. I understand the situation there; 28 countries and many are not happy about the procedures they have to abide by in their relations. Nevertheless, you still find an opportunity to build balanced and decent relations with your neighbor Belarus. I understand and appreciate it,” the head of state said.
The Belarusian leader assured that Belarus will scale up cooperation with Latvia, in particular in trade and economy, because this is the foundation to build a political and diplomatic framework. “We will deepen our trade and economic cooperation, if you are ready for that. We will step up our efforts in this regard in the interests of our countries,” the Belarusian leader said.
Aleksandr Lukashenko emphasized that he is going to see today's Riga in the near future. He noted that Belarusians visiting the Latvian capital are amazed by what they see. The Latvian foreign minister has the same impressions of Minsk, which is obvious from his statements made during the ongoing visit. The president said that the main goal of the Minsk development concept is to create comfortable living conditions for local residents.
Diplomatic relations between Belarus and Latvia were established on 7 April 1992. Belarus and Latvia have their embassies in the partner state, as well as consulates in Vitebsk and Daugavpils. Belarus and Latvia are expanding their contacts at inter-agency and interregional levels. The number of pairs of cities and regions that signed twin-town and cooperation agreements has reached 60. Contacts between the two capitals have become more vibrant, too. Latvia is interested in better relations between Belarus and the European Union, and has a pragmatic and balanced stance on all issues important to Belarus.
In 2018 bilateral trade amounted to $582.7 million, up over 32% compared with the previous year. Belarusian export reached $485.6 million. In 2018 Latvia was Belarus' 14th biggest trading partner and 10th biggest importer of Belarusian products.