Minsk Oblast, Austria's Carinthia seek cooperation in alternative energy

The matter was discussed at a meeting between Minsk Oblast Governor Semyon Shapiro and Economy Minister of Austria's Carinthia Christian Benger

Minsk Oblast of Belarus and Austria's Carinthia State are interested in expanding cooperation in the area of alternative energy. The matter was discussed at a meeting between Minsk Oblast Governor Semyon Shapiro and Economy Minister of Austria's Carinthia Christian Benger, BelTA has learned.

The agreement on cooperation and partnership between the Belarusian and Austrian regions was signed in 2008. Last year the delegation of Mink Oblast took part in the Central and Eastern European Forum in Velden. Minsk Oblast held a presentation with an emphasis on the potential of the China-Belarus Industrial Park Great Stone.

The Minsk Oblast governor noted during the meeting that the two countries are implementing a number of big joint projects in telecommunication technologies, banking sector, and woodworking industry. “We lack, however, small and medium-sized business projects. For instance, all Minsk Oblast districts need to build energy sources running on local fuels. The move will help reduce the dependence on natural gas. Strengthening our cooperation in the sector is seen as promising,” he said.

Christian Benger supported the initiative. In his words, there are companies in Carinthia that are involved in the production of heat and electric energy from wood. They produce the corresponding equipment and provide its maintenance. These companies are also investors. “During the meeting in Velden, the parties discussed the issues of the biggest mutual interest. One of them are renewable energy resources. Carinthia is ready to expand cooperation in the area. Cooperation in the areas such as electronics, microelectronics, mechanical engineering, metalworking, woodworking, plastic processing and plastic waste recycling also looks promising. Tourism is considered as a long-term perspective,” said Christian Benger.

The parties noted that the conditions for Belarus-Austria cooperation are favorable, but they need to be further developed. For instance, a proposal was voiced to improve conditions for cooperation in the financial sector and in the area of aviation communication.

During the visit to Minsk Oblast the delegation from Carinthia visited Dzerzhinsky Agrokombinat where Christian Benger praised the performance of the agricultural company. The program of the visit also envisages the familiarization with the Great Stone Industrial Park. Christian Benger invited Semyon Shapiro to visit the next Central and Eastern European Forum in Velden in 2018. The parties also plan to take stock of the progress made by the two regions in expanding cooperation.

Taking into account Carinthia's economic structure, Minsk Oblast also considers tourism (hospitality, gastronomy, spa services), agriculture, forestry and construction as promising areas for bilateral cooperation. Austria is a traditional investor in the Minsk Oblast economy. In 2016 Austria's FDI in Minsk Oblast totaled $3.4 million (117.7% to 2015). The companies that raised the most of net FDI included Henkel Bautechnik and Severstal Distribution. Minsk Oblast trade with Austria made up $20.6 million in 2016. Minsk Oblast main exports to Austria were potash fertilizers, vegetables, and frozen fruits. Minsk Oblast imported Austrian medications, rubber and plastic processing equipment, furniture and door furnishings.

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