For Czech firms, it is Destination Belarus

Trade between the two countries is rising very fast, along with the number of major investment and construction opportunities

Prague, Oct. 21 (ČTK) — Czech projects currently under way in Belarus are worth billions of crowns, the business daily Hospodářské noviny (HN) reported today.

New plans of the Industry and Trade and Foreign Affairs ministries consider Belarus, along with other countries, an alternative export market to replace Russia and Ukraine, HN said.

Czech trade with Belarus has been rising. In the past five years, bilateral trade turnover has soared 136 percent. Last year it reached 11.9 billion Kč, Czech exports amounting to 9.5 billion Kč and imports from Belarus at 2.4 billion Kč, the daily said.

The main Czech exports are machinery, computer technology, road motor vehicles, other transport equipment (locomotives), electronic and electrical equipment, equipment for telecommunications and audio reproduction and plastic products, HN said.

Belarus is putting large amounts of money in infrastructure, and it is “compatible” with Czech industry, the daily said.

According to the state-run export insurer EGAP, the country offers opportunities in engineering, metalworking, electrical engineering, aviation and rail vehicle engineering, and there is a potential for growth.

EGAP has insured business deals for around 10 billion Kč in Belarus, and this month it raised the insurance coverage to 18 billion Kč, HN said.

When it comes to payment discipline, firms in Belarus are doing much better than partners in Ukraine, EGAP CEO Jan Procházka told HN.

The largest project in Belarus — a logistics center — is being implemented by builder Metrostav, which is also bidding for the construction of a third metro line in the capital city Minsk, the daily said.

The project may be worth up to 300 million euros (more than 8.2 billion Kč). Metrostav is now in talks with the local firm Metrostroy on setting up a joint venture, Václav Soukup, the director of the Czech group’s foreign business, has said.

Czech firms, mainly those whose deals are financed by EGAP and the Czech Export Bank, are increasingly interested in the Belarus market.

In 2010, Mavel built the largest hydroelectric plant Grodno for 11 million euros and is now planning another project in Belarus.

Paper mill Papcel is currently building a 1.9 billion Kč plant, and the Brno-based company Unis has entered in talks with Naftan on the reconstruction of a local refinery.

A contract may be signed by the end of the month, according to Unis head Jiří Kovář. “The project will have two stages, its total value at around 30 million euros,” HN quoted Kovář as saying.

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