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11 Jul 2017

Call for comprehensive long-term strategy for Belarus’ cooperation with African countries

MINSK, 11 July (BelTA) – We need a comprehensive long-term strategy for cooperation with African countries, Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko said at a meeting to discuss Belarus’ foreign policy priorities at the current stage, BelTA has learned.

“We need to stop using a fragmented, visit-to-visit approach. We should have a comprehensive long-term strategy for cooperation with Africa similar to those that other European countries comparable with Belarus have,” the president said.

Alexander Lukashenko noted that the consistently high growth of developing economies underscores the importance of expanding Belarus’ presence in the African market. “We are working there, but we need to expand our presence. In 2016, our export to the continent was only $233 million. There is no reason to think that Africa is totally poor and they have nothing to pay with. Nothing of the sort! Without the resources of the continent, the world would not be able to develop dynamically today,” the head of state underlined. “We must not miss our opportunities in the competition for African markets. Much hard work lies ahead of us on this front,” he noted.

According to the president, in the first place Belarus needs to fully implement all the agreements and arrangements reached during the visits to Sudan and Egypt. “We need to make maximum use of the results of the Belarusian-African forums to increase the export of Belarusian goods and services to the region,” Alexander Lukashenko said.

Speaking about Latin America, Alexander Lukashenko stated that over the past 16 years the Belarusian export to the region has increased more than five times. The foreign trade deficit in 2000 turned into a surplus today. “This is a good example of how the focus on the development of relations with the countries of ‘distant arc’ has worked out. It contributes to regional diversification of Belarusian export,” the Belarusian leader said.

He said that, despite the fact that the Latin American region is experiencing hard times, Belarus cannot sit back waiting for changes there. “Our embassies must act vigorously not only in the countries where they are located (Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela, Cuba, Ecuador) but also in the countries where our ambassadors work part-time,” the president said.

Alexander Lukashenko noted that in promoting Belarus’ economic interests, the country’s economic entities play the key role. They must keep pace with the modern market trends and build up their promotion campaigns: from certifications and sales to maintenance services. “I already asked the Minister of Foreign Affairs to take this issue under toughest control. We have a state-controlled economy. Why cannot, let’s say Industry Ministry, establish centers for sale and maintenance of all our equipment? Why do MAZ, BelAZ, MTZ set up these facilities separately?” Alexander Lukashenko asked.

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