MINSK, 29 May (BelTA) – Belarus and Italy hope that the level of bilateral trade will exceed €1 billion in 2020, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Italy to Belarus Mario Giorgio Stefano Baldi told the media on 29 May, BelTA has learned.
“In 2018, the trade between the two countries exceeded €800 million. It continues growing. We hope that the mutual trade will exceed €1 billion in 2020,” the ambassador said.
Italy's main supplies to Belarus comprise goods that fall within the 3F category (Food, Fashion, Furniture). According to the ambassador, the economic relations between the countries will continue developing in traditional areas. The two states will scale up cooperation in renewable energy, production of machinery and equipment. Italy is ready to provide Belarus with modern materials and technology for the construction sector to reduce energy consumption in the further use of buildings. “Italy is also good at the production of equipment to make machine tools and packaging. I know that Belarus was once called an assembly workshop of the Soviet Union. Italy also was and remains a big assembly workshop. We are not rich in natural resources. We have to make our own riches. We have a well-developed agricultural sector. By the way, Belarus produces parmesan, mozzarella and other traditional Italian products,” the ambassador said.
In his words, Italian businessmen view the Belarusian market as promising. First of all, they consider it the gate to a huge Eurasian market with the total population of 200 million. For our businessmen Belarus is a big logistics hub along the West-East-Great Silk Road [Belt and Road Initiative] route. Belarus is located in the central, eastern part of the way which links Europe with Asia. Italy has big seaports. This is the gate to the corridor which can be used to get to China through Belarus,” the diplomat said.
Italy is an important trading partner of Belarus. In 2018, Italy made it to the top ten countries which Belarus has the biggest trade turnover with. According to the Belarusian embassy to Italy, the bilateral trade totaled $912.7 million in 2018, up 15.2% from 2017. Belarus' exports reached $123.9 million, going up 26% year-on-year. Belarus' imports continued growing to keep the country's trade deficit in place.
Last year Italy invested $23.3 million in Belarus, up 42.7% from 2017. Belarus is home to 263 Italy-funded companies. Their number increased by 20 companies in 2018.