European businessmen alarmed by Customs Union

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During the 12th Minsk Forum, German politicians and businessmen maintained that there is another barrier -- a psychological one -- for European investments into the Belarusian economy after the creation of the Customs Union of Belarus, Russia and Kazakhstan. German MP Georg Schimberg reckons it is indisputableл that the Customs Union will bring benefits to Belarus in the trade with Russia and Kazakhstan. But the development of these markets threatens the investments from Europe which can be reduced since Europeans are not confident that this new interstate formation will be viable. He said:

"You are saying that you will have the Customs Union... This scares European countries away. As for the perspective of the cooperation with global corporations, the words of your president that the Customs Union becomes effective in the beginning of the year and something happens in the middle of the year mean death. All businessmen wish to have as much exact forecasts as possible”.

Stefan von Kramon-Taubadel from the German consultative group of economic reforms in Belarus says that the economic development depends by 50 percent on psychological factors. Therefore, a psychological barrier which deter German investors is a very bad sign. He said:

"I know businessmen from my constituency and I know what they think. Fears accumulate. We fear that Russia will dictate in the Customs Union and we will not be able to export to Russia... You are facing a huge task of destroying these huge psychological barriers!"

Belarus' finance minister Andrei Tur responded to German experts by maintaining that Europeans have nothing to fear!

"Some time back, no one in Belarus feared a psychological problem of how we would cooperate with Poland, Lithuania and Latvia when these countries were entering the European Union. It is a huge advantage for the European Union to cooperate with Belarus which is a member of the customs union with Russia and Kazakhstan.

If our investment opportunities meet your expectations, this opens new opportunities for your goods to penetrate a vast economic space from Brest to Vladivostok”.

Andrei Tur has promised that Belarus will share information about the customs union with European investors as soon as it is created. Will it be sufficient for the cautious Europe? It seems that the economy ministry will soon have to hire psychologists in order to break psychological barriers.