It is my pleasure to kindly attract your attention to the development of friendly relations between Belarus and Romania. I am grateful to the initiators of Romanian Investment Zoom Project and personally to Mrs Adriana Radu for this opportunity.
First I would like to mention a few facts about my country, then to move on to the Belarusian–Romanian cooperation in economy and in other spheres.
Belarus is situated in the very centre of Europe. In the ancient Belarusian city of Polotsk there is a monument in honour of this. By the population (9,5 million) and the territory (207,6 thousand sq. km) Belarus is comparable to Romania.
Would you believe that even the contours of both our countries on geographical maps are nearly coincide! Going forward, it is worth mentioning that recently Mir Castle Complex in Belarus hosted an exposition of the Romanian National Museum of Maps and Old Books in which one of the best maps of Grand Duchy of Lithuania, predecessor of modern Belarus, was presented.
The major branches of the Belarusian economy are processing industry, agriculture, construction, trade. Belarus has an open and an export-oriented economy: in 2019, value of the export of goods and services was nearly two-thirds of GDP.
Being on a major trade crossroad, Belarus plays an important role in the development of world trade as a transit country. Today Belarus produces the complete range of transport and passenger vehicles, including electric buses and cars, as well as tyres of over 300 types. Belarus also produces passenger cars and heavy duty trucks, road construction machinery, lifting-transporting equipment, agricultural machinery and tractors.
World class railway rolling stock as well as metro carriages, trams are manufactured in Belarus at Swiss company Stadler plant.
Nowadays 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 one third 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-ton vehicle with 500-ton payload. Belarus produces the whole range of so called white goods with 8% share of the global market of refrigerators, as well as practically all the range of electronic devices.
In 2019 Belarus produced about 40,000 tractors, 9,000 trucks, lorries and dumpers, 800,000 household refrigerators and freezers, 1 million TV sets, 3 million tons of gasoline and 6,7 million tons of diesel fuel.
In 2012 Belarus developed, produced and launched into space its first satellite. Belarus has two satellites today.
Belarus is one of the five countries in the world which possess with 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 won 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 and accounts for the seventh part of the world potash production.
Belarusian metal-work manufacture 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. For example, Belarus is the 6th biggest producer of butter and 11th biggest producer of powder milk in the world.
Belarusian software engineers are considered as one of the best in the world. It is they who invented Viber, World of Tanks (Wargaming), MSQRD, EPAM, MAPS.ME, FLO. In terms of software exports per capita, Belarus today is ahead of such countries as the USA, China, and India.
Last year in Belarus a crypto currency exchange was launched – the first in the post-Soviet space. All this allows Belarus to prepare at home qualified specialists (both engineers and technicians) for all the branches of the national economy.
Belarus is one of the World’s biggest exporters of linen fabrics and clothes.
Few people know that flax, among other useful properties, is also a good blocker of various radiations. For example, it attenuates gamma radiation from computer monitors and TV-sets, and also inhibits sunlight flow.
At the time Euro was printed from Belarusian flax. The Belgians bought from Belarus a short fiber, which is graded in quality “two”, “three”, “four”. From the “two” tow, cellulose is obtained, which then became paper for European banknotes.
In 2017 Belarus and Romania celebrated the 25th anniversary of establishing the diplomatic relations, and both our countries jointly reached strong success in all the areas of cooperation.
Let me give just several examples which prove that the relations between our countries develop pretty successfully.
Bilateral trade turnover between Belarus and Romania increased by 30% during the last five years.
According to Eurostat, in 2019 Romania took the 7th place in terms of Belarusian export excluding oil products, hydrocarbons, nitrogen and potassium fertilizers among EU member states, and the 6th place in the first quarter of 2020.
In terms of Belarusian exports not related to petroleum products and fertilizers, Romania is ahead of most European countries with advanced economies, including the UK, France, Italy, Switzerland, Belgium, Austria, Spain, Sweden, Czech Republic, and Hungary.
In January – March 2020, the export volume from Belarus to Romania was 1.5 times higher than in the corresponding period of previous year, primarily due to high-tech science-intensive products.
According to the Belarusian statistics, after the first four months of 2020 Romania occupies the 13th place in terms of Belarusian export as the biggest partner of Belarus among all the countries of the world.
Our countries actively trade with machinery and machine tools, chemical, metallurgical and construction materials.
Belarusian tractors are assembled in Romania (in Mureș). Around ten Romanian cities use Belarusian buses and trolleybuses 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 construction materials.
In March, 2019 new direct railway route between Belarus and Romania was opened. It will greatly contribute to further increasing of the Belarusian exports of wood products (sawn wood, fibreboards, plywood, etc.) to Romania. In this regard, I should like to note traditional interest in Belarus to production of the Romanian furniture makers.
At the same time Romanian goods and services are well known in Belarus.
Medecines, industrial equipment, electrical equipment and tools, bearings, spare parts for vehicles, tyres, chemical goods, furniture, textile, clothes, footwear, wool, leather, wheet, maize, sunflower and other corns, fruits and other agricultural products, food from Romania as well as Romanian IT services are highly favored by the Belarusian consumers.
Therefore, the interest is mutual.
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.
In 2019 Belarusian companies traditionally took part in the International Trade Fair INDAGRA in Bucharest. We do hope, this year will not be diffirent.
There’s so much to see in Belarus. I have already mentioned Mir Castle Complex. The Castle known as a fine example of defensive building of the 14th century and is inscribed on the UNESCO list. Here one can see impressive three-store building, ramparts and bastions, Italian-style landscape park.
The Mir Castle and the Nesvizhsky Castle together make up one of the most ancient and beautiful example of the Belarusian architecture.
One of the main water attractions of Belarus is the Lake Naroch which is located in the homonymous Natiomal Park nearby Minsk.
It goes without saying that everyone can discover dozens of other Belarusian attractions such as Augustow Canal (“Papal Route” Augustów Channel), Museum of Old Craft “Dudutki”.
It is fair to say, that Romania is quite popular destination for Belarusian: last year 85 thousand of our citizens travelled to the country.
Today we do not only witness, but are also actively involved in developing bilateral inter-regional relations (being in Romania for 3 years – I 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 the County council (Tulcea) visited Belarus in 2017–2018.
Delegation of one of the most developed Belarusian cities Baranovichi headed by the President of the city Council visited Râmnicu Vâlcea in July 2018 to participate in the celebration of the Anniversary of the National Anthem of Romania. And the delegation headed by the Mayor of Râmnicu Vâlcea visited Belarus in in the end of 2018.
Delegation of Chaussy region of Belarus visited Iasi in 2018.
The first ever Agreement on inter-regional cooperation between Belarus and Romania at a county level was signed in June, 2018 (between the Cluj county and the Mogilev region in Belarus). Nowadays the Agreements on cooperation between the Tulcea county and the Mozyr region of Belarus, between Brasov and Minsk cities, between Calaras and Svetlogorsk cities do exist.
I am pleased to mention the existence of the Agreement on Cooperation between the Chambers of Trade and Industry of Belarus and Romania.
Quite a number of Agreements between the regional Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Belarus and Romania are also in function. For example, regional and city Chambers of Bucharest, Mures, Iasi, Prahova, Constanta, Valcea, Olt signed Agreements of Cooperation with their Belarusian partners.
In February 2019, we had the pleasure of welcoming the visit to Belarus of the Romanian delegation headed by the Minister of Waters and Forests of Romania. A return visit of the Minister of Forestry of Belarus took place in September 2019.
Our political, educational, cultural relations also show good dynamics.
The Belarus – Romania inter-parliamentary groups of friendship were established in our Parliaments two years ago, and the Chair of the Belarusian group visited Romania in September, 2017.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Romania paid official visit to Belarus in November, 2017. Belarus and Romania conducted two rounds of inter-ministerial consultations at the level of Deputy Ministers of Foreign Affairs in 2017–2018.
More than 30 Belarusian and Romanian Universities established relations in the years 2017 – 2020, and more than 20 Agreements on Cooperation between the Universities of our countries 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 the National Brukenthal Museum, the 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 this year.
The representative of Romania for the first time ever was awarded in July 2018 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 actors and movies 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 bilateral Belarus-Romania relations.
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.
I am absolutely sure Belarus and Romania have great potential for further development of all the range of bilateral relations. My Embassy and me personally together with our Romanian friends and colleagues will do our best to continue our efforts to reach even more results in favour of our both countries and our peoples.
May I use this opportunity to express my sincere gratitude to all the Romanian officials, representatives of the local and regional authorities, representatives of business, education, culture as well as to all Romanians with whom I had the pleasure and the honour to get aquainted and to keep contacts.