MINSK, 14 February (BelTA) – Trade and economic cooperation between Belarus and Serbia holds promise, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Serbia to Belarus Veljko Kovacevic told journalists in Minsk, BelTA has learned.
In 2019 Belarus-Serbia trade amounted to $150 million. “Frankly speaking, this is not enough. We are not satisfied. Two years ago the trade came at about $200 million,” the ambassador noted. According to him, market conditions and external factors influence the mutual trade. Nevertheless, there are reasons to expect an increase in economic cooperation. “I am sure that we can be optimistic about our trade and economic relations,” Veljko Kovacevic stressed.
“Serbia is a rapidly developing European country, even I am sometimes amazed at the speed of its development,” the ambassador said. “All countries develop mutually beneficial relations, as it should be. Serbia and Belarus also do so, but the relations between our countries stand out thanks to mutual trust, sincerity, and readiness to cooperate in all areas. Such openness is very rare,” Veljko Kovacevic pointed out. “Serbia knows from its tragic experience that moral and political support is very important in difficult times,” he added.
Veljko Kovacevic believes that countries that cannot boast abundant natural resources, like Belarus and Serbia, should focus on their scientific and technological capacity. He believes that this field is a promising area of cooperation.
The two countries also step up cooperation in banking, manufacturing, and agriculture. “The cooperation road maps provide for helping the Belarusian lift manufacturer Mogilevliftmash access the Serbian market. We are also looking into launching supplies of BelAZ trucks and Belarusian trolleybuses and electric buses for the city public transport enterprise of Belgrade,” the ambassador noted. “The Belarusian tire maker Belshina and synthetic yarn manufacturer Mogilevkhimvolokno continue increasing shipments to Serbia. The Serbian Ministry of Internal Affairs is also mulling over adding Geely cars to its fleet,” he added.
Serbia is home to a joint venture that makes tractors and buses of the Belarusian automobile engineering company MAZ. Last year the countries launched the production of fire trucks that use MAZ chassis. Belarus and Serbia are also discussing the idea of supplying agricultural machines and setting up a facility to assemble Gomselmash harvesters. A delegation of the Serbian Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Economy came to Minsk recently and visited meat and dairy companies. Belarus might start exporting dairy products and poultry to the Serbian market.
Veljko Kovacevic highlighted the positive dynamics in political contacts between the heads of state and parliaments. Last year, Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko paid a visit to Serbia. “However, we would not like to stop at the interstate high level of contacts. We would like more Serbians to travel to Belarus, and vice versa, in order to establish ties between people,” he noted.
Moreover, Veljko Kovacevic pointed out that the two countries successfully cooperate in the military-technical field. He mentioned upgrading MIG-29 aircraft by Belarus for the Serbian Air Force as an example of such cooperation. Belarus delivered four aircraft to Serbia in February 2019 as part of military-technical aid. Upon Serbia's request, Belarus'558 Aircraft Repair Plant is supposed to repair and upgrade navigation system, weapon systems, and radioelectronic defenses of the aircraft. According to preliminary estimates, the work is expected to take 1-1.5 years. “The aircraft will be exported [to Serbia] in three to five months,” the ambassador noted.