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01 February 2023, 18:04

MFA: Belarus persistently steps up its presence in Africa

MINSK, 1 February (BelTA) - Belarus has been persistently stepping up its presence on the African continent, Yuri Nikolaichik, Head of the Africa and Middle East Office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Belarus, said in a new episode of BelTA's YouTube project "After the Fact: Lukashenko's Decisions".

“Belarus has been persistently stepping up its presence on the African continent since the country became independent 31 years ago. We started from two embassies. It was Egypt and then the Republic of South Africa. At present Belarus has five diplomatic missions on this continent: Egypt, South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, and Zimbabwe,” he said. The Embassy of Belarus in Zimbabwe was opened relatively recently, in 2022. Belarus is represented there by an adviser on trade and economic matters. The appointment of the ambassador, according to Yuri Nikolaichik, is expected after the visit of President Aleksandr Lukashenko to that country.

“The expansion of the network of diplomatic missions matches guidelines of the head of state, who believes the Ministry of Foreign Affairs should primarily focus on economic diplomacy, on promoting the trade and economic component of our cooperation. “Since we expand presence, we see prospects for stepping up bilateral interaction in concrete countries of this continent,” Yuri Nikolaichik noted. He stressed that the presence of Belarusian foreign missions in key regions of the African continent and ambassadors, who are accredited concurrently in neighboring countries, allows intensifying contacts.

The representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is convinced that Belarus and African countries still have room to grow in terms of trade. “Persistent efforts to penetrate the African market have produced results. In 2021 Belarus' trade with African countries amounted to half a billion U.S. dollars. Belarus' export was close to $480,000. Belarus exports agricultural machines, trucks, mining vehicles, and metallurgical products to Africa,” he noted. First of all, Belarus supplies engineering goods, agricultural, rock haulers, and trucks. The products of Belarusian Steel Works are also in demand now. "Our cooperation has great prospects, not only in terms of net exports but also in terms of manufacturing cooperation. Work is currently underway, in particular, to set up assembly plants for Belarusian farm machines in Egypt and South Africa," Yuri Nikolaichik said, adding that he is talking about the projects of Minsk Automobile Plant to establish an assembly facility in Egypt and Minsk Tractor Plant to organize an assembly plant in South Africa, which will be marketed under a local brand.

"In general, we are optimistic about our cooperation with Africa in 2023, as we continue to implement the projects that have already been launched. We intend to intensify cooperation with Zimbabwe. Following the visit of the head of state, the business forum in Harare, we hope to reach specific agreements that will enable us to increase trade and find new, promising niches for joint work," he said.

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