The government tries for Chinese FDI
Given the SWAP agreement between the Chinese and the Belarusian National Banks does not work (Chinese exporters cannot return the claimed VAT back in Yuan), the Belarusian authorities have proposed to China to establish a joint industrial park in Belarus hoping to attract direct investments worth at least USD 1-1.5 billion.
An agreement concerning the creation of the park between the Economy Ministry of Belarus and the “Chinese Engineering Corporation CAMC” was signed on 11 October 2010 during the visit of Alexander Lukashenko to China. However a draft decree has been prepared only recently.
The increased cooperation and trade with China so far only results in deterioration of the Belarusian trade balance and in the growth of debt in the corporate sector. The government wants to change the type of cooperation with China and benefit from China’s FDI. However it is only dreaming and planning, given the sluggishness of the government officials, the current currency crisis and the fact that Chinese are focused on export of their goods and services rather than investment, ergo, joint industrial park even if it is established, will not be functioning this year. Moreover, the money will be allocated in tranches. All in all, the ongoing Belarusian issue with financing of the deficit will not be solved (also concerning the trade with China) or the more so, the economic crisis.
President Lukashenka continues to rotate staff and rejuvenate heads of departments and universities following new appointments in regional administrations. Apparently, new Information Minister Karliukevich could somewhat relax the state policy towards the independent media and introduce technological solutions for retaining control over Belarus’ information space. New rectors could strengthen the trend for soft Belarusization in the regions and tighten the disciplinary and ideological control over the student movement in the capital.
President Lukashenka has appointed new ministers of culture and information, the new rector of the Belarusian State University and heads of three universities, assistants in the Minsk and Vitebsk regions.
The new Information Minister Karliukevich is likely to avoid controversial initiatives similar to those former Minister Ananich was famous for, however, certainly within his capacities. Nevertheless, the appointment of Belarusian-speaking writer Karliukevich could be regarded as the state’s cautious attempt to relax environment in the media field and ensure the sovereignty of national media.
The Belarusian leadership has consolidated the trend for mild Belarusization by appointing a young historian and a ‘reasonable nationalist’, Duk as the rector at the Kuleshov State University in Mogilev. Meanwhile, while choosing the head of the Belarusian State University, the president apparently had in mind the strengthening of the ideological loyalty among the teaching staff and students at the main university in order to keep the youth movement at bay. Previously, Korol was the rector of the Kupala State University in Grodno, where he held purges among the disloyal teaching staff.
The trend for the renewal of mid-ranking executives and their rejuvenation has confirmed. The age of the Culture Minister and three new rectors varies from 39 to 44 years old.