Belarus and countries of Africa and Middle East
The broadening of cooperation with 67 dynamically developing countries of Africa and Middle East and 11 international regional organizations is gaining an importance for strengthening the 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 51 of the 54 countries of the African continent and all the states of the Middle East.
Already in 8 countries — traditional and most promising partners (Egypt, Israel, Qatar, Kenia, Nigeria, the UAE, Syria, South Africa) — 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. In general, Ambassadors of the Republic of Belarus are accredited in 19 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 Angola, Cameroon, Ghana, Iraq, Israel, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Lebanon, Morocco, Namibia, Nigeria, Syria, the Sudan and Ethiopia.
In turn, 8 countries of Africa and the Middle East are represented in Belarus at the ambassadorial level and 6 countries are represented 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 on the international agenda, similar approaches to address the social and 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 within the UN and the Non-Aligned Movement, and holds observer status in the largest regional organizations, namely 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.
A number of high-level visits took place and became significant for the development of bilateral relations.
These include visit of the President of the Republic of Belarus to the Arab Republic of Egypt (February 2020), visit of the Chair of the House of Representatives of the National Assembly of the Republic of Belarus to the State of Israel (January 2020), visit of the Minister of Culture of the Republic of Belarus to the Sultanate of Oman (March 2020), visit of the Minister of Industry of the Republic Belarus to the Republic of Zimbabwe (September 2020). The Minister of Tourism and Heritage of the Arab Republic of Egypt visited Minsk (July 2020).
In 2020, political dialogue with the United Arab Emirates and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia continued. On the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference in February 2020, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Belarus V.Makei held meetings with the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of the United Arab Emirates A.Gargash and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the KSA Faisal bin Farhan al-Saud.
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.
The impetus for building trade and economic cooperation was given by joint events with states of the region.
The 5th meeting of the Joint Committee for Cooperation between the Government of Belarus and the Government of the UAE took place as videoconference.
The first meeting of the Belarusian-Egyptian Council of Business Cooperation in the format of a business forum was held in Cairo, as well as an exhibition of joint scientific and technical developments "Belarus - Egypt: a partnership facing the future", in which 37 Belarusian enterprises took part.
Mutually beneficial cooperation with the Republic of Zimbabwe received a significant impetus after the visit of President E.Mnangagwa to Belarus in January 2019. The implementation of large contracts and joint projects in various fields in this country was ensured in 2020. During the visit of the Belarusian delegation headed by the Minister of Industry of the Republic of Belarus to Zimbabwe (September 2020), a large consignment of Belarusian agricultural and automotive equipment was transferred to the Zimbabwean side.
In cooperation with the BelCCI, two videoconferences were held for the business community of our country: “Belarus - Africa: a multi-vector economic policy in the international arena” (October 29, 2020) and “Africa - Belarus: the current situation and new guidelines for joint business projects” (December 9, 2020) with the participation of the heads of Belarusian diplomatic missions in African countries, as well as diplomatic missions of African states in Russia.
On May 31 - June 1, 2021 Minsk hosted the second Belarusian-African Economic Forum, organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in cooperation with the Belarusian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The forum was attended by representatives of government agencies, business and financial circles from 13 African countries.
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 the 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.
Humanitarian ties are also developing. In connection with natural disasters, cargoes of Belarusian humanitarian aid were sent to Zimbabwe and Mozambique.
In the Belarusian universities hundreds of future graduates from Africa and the Middle East, primarily Nigeria, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, etc. are trained annually.
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