On March 27 – 28, 2018 the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Belarus, Vladimir Makei, paid an official visit to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. This is the first since 1993 visit of Belarus’ Foreign Minister to the UK.
During the visit, V.Makei met with the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Boris Johnson, to discuss prospects for the development of bilateral relations in the context of the current situation in the European region, including the withdrawal of Britain from the EU.
It was noted that the sides are interested in further development of bilateral relations in all areas, as well as in promoting initiatives that would be aimed at easing tensions in the region.
Talks were held on a wide range of political and economic issues with the Minister of State for Europe and the Americas, Alan Duncan, and the Minister of State for Trade Policy, Greg Hands.
Foreign Minister of Belarus V.Makei meets the Minister of State for Trade Policy of the UK
Following thå meetings, official documents were signed: Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on trade and economic cooperation, which provides for the establishment of a Commercial Dialogue between the Governments to develop greater mutual trade and investment between the two countries, and MoU on customs cooperation.
At the Palace of Westminster, V.Makei met with the British MPs, members of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Belarus. The importance of consolidating positive dynamics in the dialogue between the people’s representatives of both states was noted.
At the Kensington Palace, the Minister met with a member of the royal family, Prince Michael of Kent, who had previously visited the Republic of Belarus. The parties exchanged views on the issues of bilateral cooperation in economic and humanitarian fields.
In the City of London, the Belarusian Foreign Minister held talks with the Vice-President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Pierre Heilbronn, during which the whole complex of issues related to the work of this international financial institution in Belarus was discussed. The course of implementation of the current projects within the framework of the EBRD Strategy for Belarus for 2016 – 2019 was considered.
During the meeting with the President of EBRD, Suma Chakrabarti, the sides noted the positive dynamics in the volume of operations in Belarus and the expansion of the spheres of cooperation, including through preparation of new projects in transport, energy, banking and financial sectors.
At the EBRD headquarters, a loan agreement was signed on the project for the reconstruction of the P-80 highway (section of the Minsk Second Ring Road). Realization of the project will allow completing the construction of the Second Ring Road around Minsk to the opening of the II European Games in 2019. Taking into account the funds allocated by the bank to finance the project (EUR 42.45 million), the total amount of financial resources provided by the EBRD to Belarus has exceeded 2 billion euros since 1992.
At the Center for European Reforms, V.Makei took part in the round table “Modern Belarus and its’ place in Europe” with the participation of leading British think tanks (Royal Institute of International Relations, International Institute for Strategic Studies, European Council on Foreign Relations, etc.). The Minister outlined the stance of the Republic of Belarus on topical issues on the international agenda.
The visit of the Belarusian Foreign Minister to the United Kingdom will contribute to the development of bilateral cooperation and have a positive impact on strengthening the region-wide stability.
Background Information: The United Kingdom is one of the main trade partners of the Republic of Belarus. Over last few years, the UK has consistently ranked third in terms of export of Belarusian goods. In 2017, the trade turnover between the Republic of Belarus and Great Britain amounted to 2,656.6 million dollars, exports — 2 407.3 million dollars, with a positive balance of 2 157.0 million dollars.
The United Kingdom ranks second in terms of foreign direct investment (FDI) attracted to the economy of the Republic of Belarus. In 2017, the volume of British investments in the Belarusian economy amounted to 2,591.3 million dollars, FDI — 2 456.4 million dollars.