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Russian-Belarusian trade exceeded an estimated $34 billion in 2008, Russian Prime
Russian-Belarusian trade exceeded an estimated $34 billion in 2008, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said on Friday.

The Belarusian head of government, Sergei Sidorsky, said bilateral trade was up 40%.

Putin said the two countries' priorities were the creation of a customs union and a common economic space, and further development of trade with a view to minimizing the negative fallout from the global financial crisis.

"We need to take advantage of integration, promote trade and advance production cooperation," the Russian prime minister said.

Putin and Sidorsky signed a bilateral anti-crisis plan.

Russia said it would disburse the second part of a $2 billion, 15-year stabilization loan to Belarus earlier than planned.

However, Putin did not say exactly when the loan would be provided.

The second tranche, worth $1 billion, was to have been released by the end of February 2009. The first tranche was transferred to Minsk in November 2008.


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