By Andrei Grinkevich
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Belarus to Romania
Last year Belarus and Romania celebrated the 25th anniversary of establishing the diplomatic relations, and both countries jointly reached strong success in all the areas of cooperation.
The bilateral trade turnover was increasing 30% annually during the last two years. In the year 2017 Romania was within ten biggest trading partners of Belarus among all the European countries with the bilateral trade turnover USD 150 Million, taking into account that the European Union is the second largest trading partner of Belarus on the whole (after Russia).
In the year 2018 we were witnessing further growth of the bilateral trade almost at 4% over the past 7 months. We therefore believe that the positive dynamics will continue in the coming years.
Belarusian tractors are assembled in Romania (in Mures). Around ten Romanian cities use Belarusian buses and trolleybus today.
Quite a number of roads in Romania are marked by the Belarusian machinery and with the usage of Belarusian painting. Romanian pharmaceutical products are very popular in Belarus.
Our countries actively trade with machinery and machine tools, chemical, metallurgical and wooden products, with construction materials. By the way, Belarusian investments are present in wine production in Romania, and this company is one of the official suppliers of the Royal Court of Romania.
Today we do not only witness, but are also actively involved in developing bilateral inter-regional relations (being in Your beautiful country for 1,5 years – I have already visited all the Romanian counties, some of them – for several times). Official delegations of four Romanian counties headed by the Prefects (Mureș, Cluj, Iași) and the President of County Council (Tulcea) visited Belarus in 2017 – 2018. The first ever agreement on inter-regional cooperation between Belarus and Romania at a county level was signed this June (between the Mogilev region and the Cluj county). Several Agreements between the regional Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Belarus and Romania were signed. Delegation of one of the most developed Belarusian cities Baranovichi headed by the President of the city Council visited Ramnicu Valcea this July to participate in the celebration of the Anniversary of the National Anthem of Romania.
Our political, educational, cultural relations also show good dynamics. The Belarus – Romania inter-parliamentary groups of friendship were established in our Parliaments last year, and the Chair of the Belarusian group visited Romania last September.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Romania paid his official visit to Belarus last November.
Belarus and Romania conducted two rounds of inter-ministerial consultations at the levels of Deputy Ministers of Foreign Affairs in 2017 -2018.
More than 30 Belarusian and Romanian Universities established relations in the years 2017 – 2018, and more than 20 Agreements on cooperation between our universities were signed during that period. More than 15 museums from Belarus and Romania established relations within the same period, and quite a few agreements on cooperation were signed (including National Brukenthal Museum, National Historic Museum in Bucharest). We are planning to arrange an exhibition of Corneliu Baba paintings in Belarus and also to bring the exposition of Belarusian Orthodox Icons to Romania next year.
Ties between our theaters, libraries, schools are also under rapid development.
The representative of Romania for the first time ever was awarded this July with the Grand Prize of “The Slavic Bazaar” – one of the biggest international song festivals, which is annually conducted in Vitebsk city of Belarus. Participants from over 40 countries from all the continents traditionally participate in this festival. By the way, a very famous Belarusian painter Marc Chagall was born in Vitebsk and spent his childhood and youth there. There are the native house of Marc Chagall and his Museum in Vitebsk.
Romanian movies and actors regularly become the laureates of the annual International Film Festival “Listapad” in Belarus.
All the recent positive developments between our countries without any doubt confirm the existence of great potential for further strengthening of bilateral Belarus-Romania relations.
Just a few figures about my country to additionally prove it. Belarus managed to preserve its industrial, agricultural and scientific potential after the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
Today Belarus produces the complete range of transport and passenger vehicles, including electric buses and personal cars, as well as tyres of over 300 types, for passenger cars and heavy duty trucks, road construction, lifting-transporting, agricultural machinery and tractors.
Belarus annually produces over 59,000 tractors, 2,000 combine harvesters, 22,000 trucks, 2,000 buses per year. Over 60% of Belarusian mechanical engineering products are sold abroad.
Belarus has a share of more than 7% of the world market of tractors, selling the products to over 120 countries of the world.
Belarus keeps 33% of the world market of dump trucks and produces the largest truck in the world, appearing in the Guinness Book of World Records, – a 810 tons vehicle with a 500 tons payload.
Belarus produces the whole range of so called “white products” with 8% share of the global market of refrigerators.
Belarus produces practically all the range of electronic devices. In 2012 Belarus developed, produced and launched into space its first satellite.
Belarus is one of the five countries in the world which possess the whole range of optical and precise mechanical technologies. Belarusian optics is used worldwide, including the armed forces of several EU member states (which use NATO standards, though Belarus does not use NATO standards). Belarus participated and became the winner of several tenders, and today, for example, the Swedish grenade launchers are equipped with the Belarusian laser pointers.
Belarus produces over 500 kinds of petrochemical and chemical products.
According to the International Fertilizer Association, Belarus accounts for the seventh part of the world potash production.
The metallurgical complex of Belarus produces steel electric round and shaped tubes, steel cast blanks, rolled steel, various kinds of wires, metal cords, bolts, screws, nuts, nails, molding materials, heating equipment.
Belarus remains one of the leading producers of agricultural products among the former Soviet states. For example, Belarus is the 6th biggest producer of butter in the world and 11th biggest producer of powder milk in the world.
Belarusian software designers are considered as one of the best in the world. It is them who invented Viber, World of Tanks (Wargaming), MSQRD. Belarus is also pretty famous with its medicine, especially with the surgery and struggle against oncological deceases. Belarusian surgeons conducted for the first time operation on simultaneous transplantation of both lungs and liver last year. A former Chief of Israeli Intelligence conducted operation on his heart in Belarus. Medical education on the whole in Belarus is considered as one of the strongest in the world.
Belarus has one of the biggest percentages of students per capita in the world. There are 52 universities (with 9 million population of Belarus).
Quite a few Belarusian universities have agreements with foreign Universities on mutual recognition of diplomas, including with some Universities in the USA in the IT area.
Belarus is also proud of its system of professional and secondary special education which, unlike other post-Soviet countries, has been preserved and operates successfully.
All this allows Belarus to prepare at home qualified specialists (both engineers and technicians) for all the branches of the national economy.
To my mind, the most important fact with regard to bilateral cooperation between our countries is that Romania stands strong in all the above mentioned areas, which makes it possible for the economies of our countries to complement each other. Moreover, specialists and managers of our countries talk the same language (not as teachers and pupils) which further increases the opportunities for interaction on the principles of partnership and equality.
Speaking about our bilateral cooperation, I refer not only to trade but also to reciprocal investments and establishing of joint ventures and manufactures.
Being a member of the Eurasian Economic Union, Belarus can offer Romania the access to the market with 185 million people, while at the same time Romania can become the enter point to the EU – market for Belarus. Moreover, Belarus and Romania can serve as the gates for the European products to the Eurasian market and vice versa – for the goods from the Eurasian Economic Union – to the EU member states and to the countries of the South – East Europe.
To conclude, I would like to invite The Romanian Business Journal readers to visit the Belarusian exposition at INDAGRA-2018 International Trade Fair in Bucharest, October 31 – November 4, to acquaint with our petrochemical products as well as the agricultural machinery.