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Opinions & Interviews

21 Nov 2013

Rybakov: Belarus ready for strategic partnership with South Africa

Rybakov: Belarus ready for strategic partnership with South Africa

MINSK, 21 November (BelTA) - Belarus views South Africa as a key partner in the south of Africa, and is ready to take every effort to promote bilateral relations to the level of strategic partnership, Deputy Foreign Minister of Belarus Valentin Rybakov said when opening the third session of the joint Belarusian-South African committee for trade and economic cooperation, BelTA has learnt.

Valentin Rybakov said that the agenda of the meeting clearly demonstrates the commitment of the parties to a fruitful and long-lasting relationship.

Valentin Rybakov drew attention to the growth of trade between the two countries in recent years. "Yet, taking into account the enormous potential of the countries in trade and economic cooperation, the current trade of $30 million can be regarded as just the beginning of a long journey, said Valentin Rybakov.

According to him, due to the intensification of political dialogue and contacts, Belarus and South Africa have approached the level of interaction that allows embarking on cooperation in specific areas and on joint initiatives. In particular, the parties see prospects for collaboration in such areas as agriculture, industry, science and technology, education and many others. Valentin Rybakov stressed that work has already begun on specific projects in these areas. In the short term, the parties intend to implement a number of projects, in particular to set up in South Africa the assembly plants of Belarusian tractors, road-building and municipal vehicles, trucks, produce complex fertilizers and establish joint ventures for processing of meat, milk and fish.

Valentin Rybakov noted that the Belarusian side attaches great importance to the establishment of direct links between business companies and associations of the two countries. According to him, Belarus would like to take a more active part in trade and industry shows in South Africa, and in turn invites businessmen from South Africa to attend such events in Belarus.

Valentin Rybakov took note that the delegation of the Republic of South Africa includes not only government officials but also representatives of the business community. The Deputy Minister expressed the conviction that the Belarusian-South African Business Forum, which will take place on 21 November, will give an impetus to bilateral relations.

“I hope that your current visit will give new energy, new impetus to the development of the momentum that we have gained in our relations. Having known each other better, it is now much easier for us to find common ground and to outline joint projects,” said Valentin Rybakov.

In turn, Elizabeth Thabethe, Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry of South Africa, drew attention to the need for more active engagement of the parties in order to find commercial opportunities for the expansion of bilateral trade.

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