Our relations with countries of Africa and Middle East
The broadening of cooperation with 66 dynamically developing countries of Africa and Middle East and 11 international regional organizations is gaining in importance for strengthening so called “far arc of partnership” as an element of the balanced foreign policy of the Republic of Belarus.
Belarus has established diplomatic relations with 48 of the 54 countries of the African continent and all the States of the Middle East (including diplomatic relations with the Republic of Niger and the Central African Republic established in 2012 and with the Republic of South Sudan and the Republic of Djibouti – in 2013).
Already in 8 countries — traditional and most promising partners (Egypt, Israel, Qatar, Kenia, Nigeria, the UAE, Syria, South Africa, Ethiopia) — Belarus has well-functioning diplomatic missions. Besides, in 2018 the Belorussian Consulate General was opened in Dubai (the UAE).
At the same time, Belarusian ambassadors are accredited as non-residents in several countries, i.e. having a residence in one state they perform their functions in several states. On the whole ambassadors of the Republic of Belarus are accredited (or will be accredited in the nearest future) in 28 countries of the region of Africa and the Middle East.
The institute of Honorary Consuls is now high on the agenda. The Honorary Consuls advocate the interests of Belarus in such countries of the region as Ghana, Iraq, Cameroon, Lebanon, Namibia, Nigeria, Morocco, Oman, Syria and the Sudan.
In turn, 8 countries of Africa and the Middle East are represented in Belarus at the ambassadorial level and 5 countries — at the level of honorary consuls. A number of ambassadors (heads of 37 diplomatic missions of African and Middle Eastern countries with residence in Moscow, as well as in Berlin) are accredited in the Republic of Belarus as non-residents.
The coincidence of positions on most current issues of the international agenda, similar approaches to address the socio-economic development contribute to increased cooperation between Belarus and the Middle East and African countries in all fields.
Belarus traditionally maintains the relations of friendship and mutual support with African and the Middle East states in a variety of universal international organizations, primarily the UN and the Non-Aligned Movement and holds observer status in the largest regional organizations — the African Union and the Arab League.
Cooperation with priority partners in the Middle East and Africa — Egypt, Israel, Syria, South Africa, the Gulf states — maintains its positive trend. Regular exchange of visits at the highest level has a positive impact on the development of bilateral cooperation with the countries of this region.
Recently significant impetus for development of bilateral relations in all fields has been provided by the official visits to the Republic of Belarus of President of the Republic if Sudan Omar al-Bashir in December 2018 and President of the Republic of Zimbabwe Emmerson Mnangagwa in January 2019. In terms of the visits bilateral agreements and major contracts on delivery of production were signed.
The “economic diplomacy” retains of particular importance for the Republic of Belarus, with its export-oriented economy.
A key area of cooperation between the Republic of Belarus with the countries of Africa in trade and economic sphere is to expand exports of goods and services. A systematic work is conducted to enter new markets in the African continent.
At the same time the most promising area of cooperation with the Gulf countries and Israel is the development of investment cooperation. Joint investment projects in the field of creation of new industries, construction, agriculture, hotels, trade, etc. are being worked out and implemented.
In 2018 in a number of key states (in terms of Belarusian interests) in Africa and the Middle East a very difficult political and economic situation remained, which complicated the Belarusian trade with the region. Nevertheless, purposeful coordination of the activities of government agencies and organizations by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs contributed to the growth of trade turnover of the Republic of Belarus with Africa and Middle East states.
Joint projects in trade, economic, scientific, technical, investment and other areas are being successfully implemented. Several countries have already established joint ventures to produce modern automobiles and tractors based on Belarusian technologies.
Belarusian enterprises and organizations actively participate in international exhibitions and fairs held in Africa and the Middle East. In addition, with the assistance of Belarusian Ministry of Foreign Affairs a number of Belarusian exporters, primarily Minsk Automobile Plant and Minsk Tractor Works, each year open their representative offices in African and the Middle East countries. Fruitful work on the creation of permanent exhibitions of Belarusian products and Belarusian trading houses in the most promising (in terms of Belarusian export) countries in the region is permanently maintained.
In the Belarusian universities hundreds of future graduates from Africa and the Middle East, primarily Nigeria, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, etc. are trained annually.
Belarus and the countries of Asia, Australia and Oceania
Development of cooperation with the countries of the South, East and Southeast Asia is an important direction of the multi-vector foreign policy of Belarus.
The Asian region is an absolute priority for Belarus, primarily, as a capacious, promising and rapidly expanding market for Belarusian goods and services, and a promising source of investments in the Belarusian economy.
Simultaneously, the countries of the region import a wide range of products similar to those produced in the Republic of Belarus. There are objective prerequisites for the promotion of Belarusian goods and services.
Certain countries of the region are among the world leaders in terms of direct investment abroad, which can help the Republic of Belarus develop the promising sectors of the national economy.
There are mechanisms created with those countries for interaction at the political level, ongoing inter-parliamentary cooperation and dialogue evolving in the spheres of trade and economy, industry, science and technologies, culture, education, etc.
Belarus has a solid normative and legislative basis of cooperation with the countries of the region that continues to expand with new agreements being added in promising areas.
Belarus enjoys an effective cooperation with the countries of the region within international organizations, including exchange of reciprocal support on fundamental issues.
Intensification of comprehensive strategic partnership and mutually beneficial cooperation with China has traditionally been a key direction of the Belarusian foreign policy in Asia.
Minsk and Beijing have mechanisms for regular exchanges of top-level visits, an active ongoing inter-parliamentary dialogue, well-functioning Belarusian-Chinese intergovernmental cooperation committee, dynamically developing inter-agency and inter-regional contacts.
The Republic of Belarus intends to become a lead regional participant in the Belt and Road Initiative along the continental “bridge” between Europe and Asia. In May 2017, President of the Republic of Belarus À.Lukashenko participated in the First Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing.
Credit and investment area is an important direction for strengthening cooperation with the PRC. About forty major credit agreements with Chinese financial institutions are in effect in the sectors of energy, construction, transport infrastructure, industry and agriculture.
There is a work underway to transit from conditional crediting to direct investment in the economy of Belarus. At the end of 2018, the inflow of Chinese direct investment accounted for $ 186.9 million, which is 1.5 times higher than that of 2017 ($ 112.8 million).
Belarus actively participates in the Silk Road Economic Belt project. The Great Stone industrial park plays a special role as an international high-tech project open to new foreign investors.
As of January 2019, 42 residents from China, Germany, Canada, Israel and other countries are registered in the park.
The Government of the PRC regularly provides a gratis technical assistance to the Republic of Belarus.
There is a progressively developing cooperation between Belarus and India. In June 2018, Speaker of the Lower House of the Indian Parliament, Mrs. Sumitra Mahajan, paid an official visit to Belarus.
Belarus — India investment and technological cooperation is of growing importance. Several projects are being implemented to produce up-to-date medicines in Belarus based on Indian technologies and with investments from India. Under consideration is the creation of the Belarusian-Indian investment cluster at the site of the future Free Economic Zone of the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) “Bremino-Orsha”. Work is underway to localize the Belarusian “MAZ” and “Gomselmash” machinery products in India as a part of the “Make in India” scheme of the Indian Government.
Belarus has been developing mutually beneficial relations with Iran. A high level of political contacts has been achieved. President of the Republic of Belarus A. Lukashenko and President of the Islamic Republic of Iran H. Rouhani met during the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in China in June 2018. In September 2018, the Iranian delegation led by the Speaker of the Islamic Consultative Assembly of Iran A. Larijani visited Belarus.
Interaction with Tehran covers the spheres of trade, economy, investments, education, culture, etc. In January 2018, Belarusian-Iranian Commission for Economic Cooperation had its regular session in Tehran.
There is a regular interaction at various levels with Pakistan. In 2015 and 2016, President of the Republic of Belarus A. Lukashenko visited the country, thus providing an impetus to the advancement of multifaceted bilateral relations and contributing to the establishment of an active exchange of visits between the heads of governments, parliaments and other agencies.
Constructive cooperation on the international arena in addressing important issues of the global and regional agenda is ensured through the mechanism of political consultations between the ministries of foreign affairs of Belarus and Pakistan.
The ASEAN member countries represent another priority for Belarus in Asia. Belarus pursues a policy aimed at developing friendly relations with the counties of the region. Belarus maintains diplomatic relations with all the ASEAN countries, and has its diplomatic missions in Vietnam (concurrently in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand) and Indonesia (concurrently in Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines).
There are Inter-parliamentary relations evolving. Belarus has been an observer in the ASEAN inter-parliamentary Assembly since 2011. The Ambassador of Belarus to ASEAN has been accredited since 2012. Similar approaches to the issues on the multilateral agenda enable Belarus to successfully cooperate with these countries in the international arena.
On the bilateral Belarus-ASEAN track there is a positive dynamics in scientific, technical and innovative cooperation. The State Committee on Science and Technology of the Republic of Belarus and institutes of the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus cooperate with the leading research and innovation organizations of Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore and other countries.
Over the past 15 years, trade with the countries of the region has grown from $75 to $831 million. In 2018, the export of Belarusian goods to the region reached $586 million, the import to Belarus — $245 million. The Republic of Belarus has a trade surplus of $341 million.
Stable supplies of Belarusian fertilizers enable partners in the region to effectively address the issues of food security and development of exports. The countries of the region are important consumers of Belarusian machinery products. Belarusian BELAZ dump trucks, MAZ trucks, “Belarus” tractors, tires, petroleum products, chemical goods, machinery and equipment are recognized in the region.
Cooperation in the food sector appears promising in view of Belarus’ achievements in agricultural production. Belarus has been successfully increasing its supplies of food, including dairy products to the ASEAN countries.
The Republic of Belarus maintains active bilateral relations with Indonesia and other countries of the region. In March 2013, President of the Republic of Belarus paid state visits to Indonesia and Singapore, thus providing for enhancement of dialogue between Belarus and these countries in trade, economic and political areas, as well as in inter-parliamentary area. The two countries enjoy effective bilateral cooperation through regular sessions of the Belarusian-Indonesian Joint Commission on Trade, Economic and Technical cooperation, as well as consultations between the ministries of Foreign Affairs.
Visits to Vietnam by President of the Council of the Republic of the National Assembly of Belarus M. Myasnikovich, leadership of the Belarusian Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Industry, a regular session of the Belarusian-Vietnamese Intergovernmental Commission on Trade and Economic Cooperation, Belarus national exposition at the Vietnam EXPO-2018 and the Vietnamese-Belarusian Business Council contributed to the progressive advancement of the Belarusian-Vietnamese relations to the level of strategic cooperation.
The Belarusian-Japanese economic forum in Tokyo in May 2018 and the visit to Belarus by a representative Japanese business delegation under the aegis of the Japanese Association for Trade with Russia and the Newly Independent States (ROTOBO) in October 2018 became important events in the bilateral relations.
There is an active Belarusian-Japanese cooperation in the humanitarian sphere. Since 2012, Belarus has been implementing a rehabilitation program for Japanese children from prefectures affected by the accident at the Fukushima-1 nuclear power plant. In 2018, over 120 children and their accompanying persons from Fukushima and Miyagi prefectures received a treatment in the Zubrenok children’s rehabilitation center. The Japanese side offers technical assistance projects under the Grass-Roots program. The program mainly provides for the implementation of humanitarian projects in the areas affected by the Chernobyl accident. The total amount of this Japanese assistance to Belarus has already exceeded $3 million USD.
The results of the visit to Minsk by the parliamentary delegation of the Republic of Korea led by the head of the parliamentary group for cooperation with the Republic of Belarus Lee Wong Wook, a regular meeting of the Joint intergovernmental Committee for Economic, Scientific and Technical cooperation, held in 2018, opening of the original Development Center in Belarus by SK Hynix, one of the world's largest manufacturers of semiconductor digital devices, give an optimistic outlook of prospects for bilateral cooperation in various fields.
Meeting of the President of Belarus A. Lukashenko with the President of Mongolia H. Battulga on the margins of the SCO summit in Qingdao in June 2018 became a turning point in the development of bilateral cooperation. The outcome of the exchange of visits of the Foreign Ministers, the trip to Ulaanbaatar by a representative delegation led by the Minister of Industry of Belarus as Co-Chair of the Joint Belarusian-Mongolian Commission on Trade and Economic Cooperation have laid an important foundation for a long-term productive cooperation between the countries.