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MINSK, February 25. /TASS/. Russia and Belarus have sufficient reserves for recovery of the two countries’ sustainable economic growth, Russian President Vladimir Putin said when opening the session of the Supreme State Council of the Union State of Russia and Belarus on Thursday.
"Both Russia and Belarus have sufficient domestic reserves for recovery of sustainable growth rates of the Union State and mutual trade," President said.
The session will focus on taking a number of important decisions related to further development and strengthening of the Union State, Putin said, adding that in recent years the countries have managed to cement close trade and economic relations, scientific and technological as well as educational and cultural ties and to enhance legal framework in various sectors.
According to president, the proven experience of the two countries triggers integration processes throughout the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States). Meanwhile, Putin said, "the Union State is facing certain challenges related to instability of global environment, plunging prices for energy, commodities and food." "Unfavorable external factors caused a decline of mutual trade turnover in 2015, which slipped by 4% in physical terms and even more substantially in money terms. We all realize that all this is mainly related to falling prices for our traditional export commodities," he said.
Putin also dwelled upon top level cooperation between Russia and Belarus, saying that he plans to "participate in the Third Belarus-Russia Forum of Regions, which is due in June in Minsk."
President added that "Russia obviously aims at further mutually beneficial and equal integration with Belarus within the common Union State."
The integration project of the Union State of Russia and Belarus is developing successfully, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday at the meeting with his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko.
"We know in what kind of world we live in, what is going on in the world economy, in our countries. There are many questions that require our special attention, especially at the highest level," Putin said. "In general, I would like to note that everything that started 20 years ago — I mean the start of establishing the Union State — is not lost. On the contrary, this integrational project is developing, and developing successfully," the Russian president noted.
He added that agreements between Russia and Belarus in the framework of the Union State represent an example of developing integrational processes across the post-Soviet space.
Putin thanked Lukashenko for taking part in the integrational process from the very beginning. "We have an opportunity now to make next steps in developing our special relations. I am confident that our current work will be a starting point for continuing this rather positive partnership for our countries and peoples," Putin said.
Russia and Belarus agree to harmonize regulation in industry, finance, and services sectors, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday.
"We agreed to continue harmonization of regulation in industry, in currency and finance sphere, and in the services sector," Putin said.
There is a need for more active work to improve the investment and business climate in both countries, Putin said. The working group on macroeconomic coordination should ramp up its activities and the practice of holding joint meetings of economy ministries of Russia and Belarus should continue, the Russian President added.
"We also need to develop multifaceted sector interaction and pursue more concerted economic policy," Putin said.
Development of cooperation in high technology sphere, greater share of science-intensive products and substitution of foreign components should be in the focus, the Russian President said. This should be implemented in the first instance in industries providing for security of Russia and Belarus, Putin added.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has confirmed the plans to commission power units of Belarus nuclear power plant in 2018 and 2020.
"Construction of the Belarusian NPP is underway. This is one of our key projects," Putin said at the session of the Supreme State Council of the Union State of Russia and Belarus.
"Russia's investments in the project are at $10 billion," the Russian leader said, adding that Russia's specialists take part in the construction of the NPP in Belarus.
"The launch of the first power unit is scheduled for 2018, the second — for 2020," Putin said.
While speaking about energy cooperation, Putin said that Russia helps Belarus in the development of its gas transportation network.
"In addition to the funds, which have already been assigned, [Russia’s gas giant] Gazprom plans to invest in the economy and in this project about $2.5 billion - in the Belarusian sector of the Yamal-Europe gas pipeline, and over $1 billion in the increase of the volumes of the [gas] underground storages," the Russian president said.