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23 November 2020, 11:18

FM: Even during pandemic, Belarus maintains foreign economic ties with 173 countries

MINSK, 23 November (BelTA) – Even in the difficult conditions of the pandemic, Belarus has continued to develop foreign economic ties with 173 countries, Belarus' Minister of Foreign Affairs Vladimir Makei said in an interview to the Belarus 1 TV channel on 17 November, BelTA has learned.

“Today we are dealing with a number of challenges. At the beginning of the year we faced the COVID-19 pandemic, which, at first, put on hold the work on the foreign economic contour in many respects. But that doesn't mean that we stopped working. Around May, we saw a revival of our export activity," the minister said.

According to the data for January-September of this year, Belarus worked with 173 states. "The same was the case last year. Yes, our exports have decreased, by about 20%. This is only due to the fact that at the beginning of the year we had some problems with oil supplies from Russia. There was instability due to the epidemiological situation in foreign markets, and we have not delivered a significant amount of fertilizer to a number of countries. If we remove oil and potash fertilizers from the equation, our exports fell by only 4.6%,” Vladimir Makei said. "This is even below the WTO forecast for 2020, where it projected a decline of 9.2% in world trade,” the minister said.

The minister said: “This does not mean however that everything is good. We see that problems remain due to the closed borders, the impossibility of in-person meetings, visits.”

There are some prospects at the same time. “Our agricultural output has grown many times. The president said that we have got a good harvest this year. Our agricultural specialists say that the farm exports will reach $5 billion in 2020. This means that we are self-sufficient in food products and are ready to feed others. The issue of hunger is still present in a number of countries, in a number of regions,” Vladimir Makei said.

Belarus is ready to export many other goods it produces. “We have increased the supplies of medical equipment by 70% and those of medications by 15%. This is also very important. Countries lack a lot of things today,” the minister said.

In his words, Belarus continues traditional supplies of tractors and agricultural machinery. Belarus also expands the assortment of goods it produces and intends to promote their sales abroad. “We will be working on the area,” the minister said.

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