PRETORIA– Belarus is keen to advance its bilateral economic ties with South Africa and extend co-operation in the industrial and technological fields, says th East European nation’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Andrei Dapkiunas, according to the Department of Trade and Industry (dti).
Speaking at the South Africa-Belarus Business Forum hosted by the dti here on Friday, Dapkiunas said Belarus was working to upgrade its bilateral economic ties with South Africa. He was leading a business delegation on a three-day visit to South Africa as part of the celebrations to mark 25 years of diplomatic ties between South Africa and Belarus.
It is 25 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations between our countries. Now it is high time that we take a fresh look at our bilateral relations. In this 25-year period, we have accumulated sufficient experience and knowledge that we can utilise to clearly identify areas of cooperation which will take our political and economic relations to the next level,” he said.
These include agriculture, infrastructure development, education, and Information and Communication Technology. From the Belarusian side we would like to move on to a new higher level of cooperation based on industrial and technological ties,
The dti said in a statement here Monday that trade between Belarus and Africa stood at 750 million US dollars last year.
Unfortunately and regrettably, only 17 million USD of this was trade between South Africa and Belarus. Given the size, prominence and importance of South Africa both in Africa and global affairs, this figure just shows that there is a lot of unused potential that can be utilised to the benefit of both countries. We have to explore all existing avenues of cooperation, Dapkiunas said.
The Belarusian delegation’s visit included attending the fourth session of the South Africa-Belarus Inter-governmental Committee on Trade and Economic Co-operation (ITEC) which took place here last Thursday.
Dapkiunas said Belarusian fertilizers, heavy duty dump trucks and agricultural machinery had won a strong and stable position in the South African market and other countries of the continent.
The establishment of new production facilities by Belarusian companies in South Africa will help his country to not only gain a foothold in South Africa but also create new jobs for the country.
Speaking at the conclusion of the ITEC a day earlier, South African Deputy Minister of Trade and Insutry Bulelani Magwanishe said both countries needed to work on ways to increase trade with one another.
We are collectively obliged to recommend solutions to the low levels of trade between South Africa and Belarus, as well as Africa in its entirety. We should create platforms for diversified exports, where a greater portion of beneficiated products are concerned, Magwanishe said.
The ITEC was established through the bilateral Trade and Economic Co-operation Agreement that was signed between South Africa and Belarus in 2000.
Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK