MINSK, 28 May (BelTA) – The Belarusian agribusiness keeps raising the output and the volume of export despite the COVID-19 pandemic, BelTA learned from Aleksei Bogdanov, Head of the Central Office for Foreign Economic Activities of the Belarusian Agriculture and Food Ministry.
The official pointed out that the measures many countries have introduced due to the coronavirus infection have caused serious problems with food production and sales. For instance, the European Union is experiencing a severe shortage of seasonal workers. There are long queues and shortages in retail outlets in the USA. Demand has plummeted in Russia's HoReCa industry. Director of the UN World Food Program David Beasley expects forthcoming famine of biblical proportions. “Meanwhile, there are no problems with food in Belarus thanks to a balanced policy on dealing with the COVID-19 problem,” Aleksei Bogdanov stressed.
Belarusian agricultural enterprises, processing enterprises continued working smoothly and increasing their output and foreign currency earnings from foreign trade operations. In Q1 2020 the gross output of Belarusian agriculture rose by 5.5% while food export rose by 9.8%. Foreign currency earnings totaled $1.4 billion, more than $125 million up from the same period of last year. Thanks to that the share of agriculture in Belarus' total export reached a record high of 21.8%. “I wouldn't say it was easy to accomplish but the systemic work the Agriculture and Food Ministry has been doing for the last few years in order to diversify export has allowed redirecting shipments from declining markets to more attractive ones with minimal losses,” the official noted.
For instance, while the share of the Russian market dropped by 3.9 percentage points the share of other CIS states rose by 1.5 percentage points while the share of non-CIS states went up by 2.4 percentage points. Shipments to China rose by 2.4 times, shipments to the USA by 14%, to the European Union by 54% while shipments to Saudi Arabia and the UAE rose by more than seven times. Meanwhile, a number of new markets were penetrated, including India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Oman, Myanmar, Guinea, and Niger.
“This year we intend to export $5.7 billion worth of agricultural products and food, with the growth rate at 104.2% as against 2019,” Aleksei Bogdanov concluded.