In general the Report contains several pages of information and comprises 15 items of activities Belarus and Ministry of Foreign Affairs has fulfilled in 2018. We give only some of them - most relevant to our Agenda 2019. The full report can be found here.
The Report says that geopolitical outcomes of the year 2018 have demonstrated a systemic crisis of the global environment that is gaining momentum.
The situation in the world was characterised by enhancement of instability and unpredictability with a tendency toward permanent deterioration. The list of major challenges included: enhancement of rivalry and deepening of a credibility gap between leading international players and centres of power; “simmering” regional conflicts and emergence of new instability hotbeds; intensification of economic contradictions, “trade wars”, imposition of sanctions and counter-sanctions; danger of collapse of the international system of arms control and return to the arms race; emergence of fundamentally new threats to international cybersecurity.
Presidents of Belarus and Russia held 10 meetings in various formats and frequently communicated on the phone.
Belarus and Russia remained important trade partners. In 2018, Russia accounted for nearly half of Belarus foreign trade (38.4% in total exports from Belarus and 59.9% in total imports to Belarus). In its turn, Belarus was among Russia’s five top trading partners.
Cooperation in various fields could have been more effective if there were equal business conditions, access to goods and services markets, solution of problem issues on oil and gas markets, removal of problems in the field of agricultural products supply, adjustment of Belarus-Russia border crossing regime by third countries citizens.
On January 1, the EAEU Customs Code entered into force. Its norms allow accelerating and simplifying significantly customs procedures in respect of the goods moved across the customs border of the Union.
The Union became more appealing for foreign partners with the promotion of international cooperation, including in the East (China, Iran, Shanghai Cooperation Organization, Association of Southeast Asian Nations).
EU-Belarus Coordination Group continued to function.In the course of the year the remaining EU sanctions were reduced, while biathlon equipment was excluded from the arms embargo.
Credit and investment cooperation was intensified. The European Investment Bank signed agreements aimed at the implementation of projects to support small and medium-sized enterprises, the reconstruction of the water purification infrastructure of our country. New mechanisms of the EU grant assistance for construction and modernization of economically vital facilities (namely – “Eastern Europe Energy Efficiency and Environment Partnership” and “Mobility Partnership”) were introduced in Belarus.
Negotiations on EU-Belarus Partnership Priorities approached final stage. They will become a “roadmap” for cooperation in 2019 – 2020 in four areas: strengthening of public administration system; economic development and market opportunities; transport communications, energy, environment and climate as well as human contacts. Negotiations with the EU on visa facilitation and readmission agreements entered the closing phase.