Setting up a linen industry cluster will help Belarus and Russia replace cotton in case cotton is in short supply in foreign markets, according to chairman of the Belarusian council Mikhail Myasnikovich, who said flax is a promising substitute. A proposal for such a cluster was made at the Forum of Russian and Belarusian Regions in St. Petersburg recently. Myasnikovich said the cluster, if established, will operate as a commercial entity and deal with issues of import substitution, according to a Belarusian news agency. Cotton-producing countries have been ramping up its processing into yarn, fabric and finished product.

Belarus has carried out an expensive upgrade of Orsha Linen Mill, which can now produce high-quality fabrics. Russia has good capacities in flax industry, particularly in primary processing. Belarus offered Russia a proposal to pool together scientific, production and financial capacities to ensure full technological cycle—from research, seed production and cultivation of flax to production of fabrics—should the parties decide to create the cluster.