With an eye on the expanding export market, Belarus and China are teaming up to make flying drones.
The two countries are setting up a joint venture to manufacture unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).
The global market for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) is expanding rapidly.
According to Belarus Telegraph Agency, the contract is due to be signed sometime in the first half of 2017.
Sergei Chizhik, Deputy Chairman of the Presidium of the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus says while Russia, Vietnam, and Turkmenistan are also interested in collaborating with Belarus to manufacture UAVs, the main partner is China. He explains:
“The competition on the global market of flying drones is very high. If we don’t team up with strong companies, we will have a hard time staying on the market.”
Growing UAV market
A recent analysis suggests the global market for UAVs is USD 13.22 billion in 2016 and will expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 13.5 percent to reach USD 28.27 billion by 2022.
Applications for UAVs range from military and homeland security to civil and commercial. Key factors fuelling market growth include: rising demand for commercial applications, technological advancement in payloads, and increasing defence budgets of emerging economies.
Forecasters anticipate the fastest growth will be in civil and commercial sectors, where applications are likely to include: monitoring greenhouse emissions, aerial remote sensing, and precision agriculture.
Great Stone industrial park near Minsk
The new enterprise will be established in Great Stone, an industrial park being built under an agreement between Belarus and China and situated 25 km outside of Minsk, the capital of Belarus.
The plan is for Great Stone to become a modern “international eco-city” with an emphasis on high-tech and export-oriented production, complete with offices, shopping malls, research centres, and financial services.
To attract investors and international companies from any country, Belarus has granted Great Stone special legal status conducive to doing business.
China’s beachhead into the European market
Announcement of the UAV joint venture follows the signing in September of agreements worth USD 2 billion, when Chinese President Xi Jinping met with President of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, in Beijing. It was Lukashenko’s ninth visit to China.
The agreements – which include loans and projects covering trade, investment, and technology – are intended to strengthen bilateral ties between Belarus and China.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry says China has already provided more than USD 5 billion to Belarus for 24 projects – including the country’s largest hydropower plant at Vitebsk.
China views the landlocked country on Poland’s eastern border as a beachhead into the European market and Great Stone as a way of taking the “new Silk Road into Europe.”
In February, the European Union lifted most of its sanctions against Belarus. It leaves in place an arms embargo and sanctions against four people connected with the unresolved disappearances of two opposition politicians, a businessman, and a journalist.