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Union State of Russia, Belarus adopts $5 billion budget

December 25, 2013, 20:44 updated at: December 25, 2013, 21:08 UTC+3 25
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MOSCOW, December 25 (Itar-Tass) - Union State of Russia and Belarus has adopted its 2014 budget at $4.87 billion, Russian president Vladimir Putin said following a meeting of the Union State’s Supreme Council.

“The talks dwelled upon the main spheres of the Union State’s further development,” he said adding the chief priorities remained invariable - improving economic ties, close production cooperation, establishing a common transport system and labour market. About 40 percent of the “decent” amount would be allocated for promising economic projects, Putin added.

Traditionally, due attention will be given cultural ties, this time being the 70-year anniversaries of Belarus liberation from Nazi invaders and the Great Victory, Putin said.

He added Russia accounted for almost 50 percent of Belarussian turnover, while Belarus was Russia’s chief trading partner in the CIS (34 percent) and fifth important worldwide (5 percent). January - September 2013 saw an 11-percent decline in mutual trade turnover, but the situation has improved recently - in the third quarter the figure added about 3 percent, Putin said.

“We are planning to take more active, aggressive measures to improve mutual trade structure and increase the portion of high value-added products,” Putin added noting some positive trends. Over the first six months of 2013 exports of mechanical engineering products from Russia grew 4 percent, while supplies of chemical products added 3 percent. Belarusian exports demonstrated positive dynamics as well, with trade in services up 15 percent.

The sides have agreed to support mutual investment flows. By now, Russian investments in the Belarussian economy have exceeded $5.5 billion, mostly direct investments. Putin said the construction of the Belarusian nuclear power plant financed with $10 billion by the Russian side was a vivid example of the two countries’ hi-tech cooperation. The main stage of construction started last November. The first unit is planned for commissioning in the summer of 2018, and the second, in 2020.

Putin stressed interregional cooperation as one of the key factors for stronger economic ties, citing trade turnover between the border Smolensk Region and Belarus that increased three times in the first half-year to almost $3 billion.

These contacts were to be cemented by the newly created forum scheduled for February 2014, Putin said.

“Economic interaction between our two countries is not to be considered separately from the Eurasian integration,” Putin believes. The president expressed the hope the two countries’ accumulated integration experience would further come in handy for setting up the Eurasian Economic Union by January 2015.

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