Expert: Chinese copy technologies or simply steal them
The Russian authorities don't like the idea of production Chinese cars in Belarus. In an interview with the newspaper "Zviazda" Russian Ambassador Alexander Surikov hinted, that doesn't share the optimism of Alexander Lukashenko on transforming our country into an assembly shop for auto giants from the Celestial Empire, and reminded, the Customs Union was created for protection against unfair competition, including the Chinese one.
"I don't rule out that Russia, which has substantial capacities for the production of passenger cars, will insist on significant restrictions on the import of Chinese packaged parts for subsequent assembly of these cars in Belarus. It is the right of Russia and this question can arise", the Russian ambassador said.
Surikov's words are a response to the signing of an investment project on creating a joint venture, which deals in assembling of China's Geely cars in Belarus on the basis of "BelAZ".
UDF.BY asked chairman of the Belarusian Automobile Association Sergei Mikhnevich to comment on the possibility of "car war" between Russia and Belarus.
According to the expert Russia takes a tough stance on Chinese automakers on the domestic market as well:
"Russia sees in the Chinese automobile industry a serious competitor and don't let it to develop on its own market. The Chinese violates patent rights of the leading automakers, because of this they have big problems with the promotion of products, including in Europe. In this regard, Russia's position coincides with common European opinion on this matter".
However, the head of Belarusian Automobile Association considers statements of the Russian Ambassador as an interference in the internal affairs of our country and doubts that they influence the Belarusian authorities:
"If to talk about the possibility of producing cars of Geely company, then Russia will certainly hinder the implementation of this project. But China is in WTO, which includes Russia and Belarus aims to enter it. Humanly, I can understand the ambassador, but I haven't heard about any existence of some documents, which limit the possibilities of cooperation between Belarus and China in the production of cars".
Sergei Mikhnevich don't agree with the president's statement that we have better conditions for the automakers, than our neighbors, and doubts that many big companies want to produce cars in Belarus:
"Production of cars is a complex and expensive business. It needs stability and investment attractiveness. What kind of attractiveness can we talk about after two devaluations, after lack of currency in exchange offices and hyperinflation in 2011. In addition, we were not in CES and were quite a small and limited market, where functioned very low tariffs on used cars, which nullified the economic feasibility of the assembling. The result of Samand's production is a confirmation to this".
According to the expert, if the authorities "not only reduce the tax rate on profits, but also reduce the VAT", as well as stabilize the foreign exchange market and stop inflation, Belarus will become an attractive place to build cars. Mikhnevich believes, this issue is relevant right now, because "we aligned the duties and joined the CES", thereby we turned into a more attractive market for automakers than a year ago.
Head of the Belarusian Automobile Association has little optimism about the Belarusian-Chinese cooperation in the field of automobile production. This skepticism occurs not only due to the difficult economic situation in Belarus, but also because of the reputation of Chinese automakers:
"Belarusians should work with someone, who is really the bearer of technologies - the Germans, Koreans, Japanese, French. Chinese copy technologies or simply steal them. So, to start cooperation with them in this field is fraught with serious problems", he concluded.