MINSK, 14 May (BelTA) - Belarus is gradually tapping into the market of Colombia after opening its embassy there, Ambassador of Belarus Nikolai Ovsyanko told Belarus 1 about Belarus' achievements and prospects of trade and economic cooperation with this Latin American country, BelTA learned from the Belarusian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The Belarusian embassy in Colombia was opened in 2019, but due to the recent pandemic, a full-scale diplomatic mission was formed only at the end of 2020. According to the diplomat, a lot was done during the period.
For example, the embassy assisted in setting up a Belarus-Colombia parliamentary friendship group and signing a memorandum on cooperation between the Culture Ministries of the two countries. Last year, on the eve of marking the start of the Great Patriotic War, the Brest Fortress film was screened for the first time in one of the largest centers of the capital Bogota. The film was quite a success.
“The region of Latin America is huge. There is a big field for Belarus for cooperation here. In fact, our opportunities are not limited at all, be it political, economic or cultural interaction,” Nikolai Ovsyanko said.
In his words, last year the trade between Belarus and Colombia amounted to $90 million. In 2016 the figure stood at $47 million. “Our export makes up $80 million. The lion's share is fertilizers. There are also other commodity items. The areas promising for cooperation include farm machinery, our buses, high-tech products. The latter is especially relevant taking into account the recent pandemic, when many people had to work from home,” said the ambassador. “The market for IT products in the region as well as in Colombia has grown tremendously. These areas are highly in demand. Moreover, the embassy is addressed by large Colombian companies that know about Belarus' success in the IT sector.
Interest in cooperation on a wide range of areas is high, from education of employees for such companies in Belarus to large-scale projects in municipal construction, development of smart cities and other related areas.
According to Nikolai Ovsyanko, Colombia is currently considering several documents on cooperation with Belarusian universities and the number of Colombian students who study in Belarus is on the rise. About a dozen Colombians came to Belarus to study this academic year. It is expected that Belarus will welcome five times more such students next year. “Belarusian education in different areas, including architecture, engineering and computer technology, is largely praised. We have a very big potential in this direction,” said the ambassador.
He also spoke about the development of several interesting projects, including the search for those interested in distribution of Belarusian products in Colombia. “The sales of our sweet products - marshmallow, which is known in our region and almost unknown here - can be quite promising,” said Nikolai Ovsyanko.
“In general, despite the rather complicated history of the country, people in Colombia are very open and good-natured. We have established good contacts with the government bodies of the country, as well as with ordinary people who are interested in Belarus. Belarus has a lot of promising areas for the development of cooperation with this country,” the diplomat said.