Belarus trade doubles in three years

Viet Nam News interviewed Belarus ambassador Aleksandr Kutselai on the occasion of the country's National Day today.

What do you think about the effect of Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko's visit to Viet Nam in early April on bilateral ties?

Viet Nam and Belarus are good friends and Belarus wants to develop a multi-faceted co-operation based on mutual self-interest. Thus, the meeting between the two countries' leaders has obviously played an important role in co-ordinating this process.

Presently, Viet Nam and Belarus have established a high-level political relationship between leaders, parliaments, provinces, cities and ministries.

Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko's visit to Viet Nam in early April has promoted political and economic relationships between our two countries, and enhanced the legal foundation for future ties.

There are now 60 conventions and agreements. During President Lukashenko's visit, the two leaders signed a joint statement which defines various strategic directions for developing relations between Viet Nam and Belarus.

The two countries also signed ten pacts, agreements and inter-government protocols during the visit.

Strategic directions for co-operation for the 2008-10 period were proposed and some contracts were signed.

Can you tell us something about the Vietnamese community in Belarus?

For a long time, the long-lasting friendship between the two countries have been developed with active co-operation between friendship associations, social associations and organisations in the two countries' provinces and cities.

There are not many Vietnamese people living in Belarus (about 1,000 people); they mostly arrived in the golden times of the former Soviet Union.

Not all of them live there legally but Belarusian authorities have facilitated their living and working situations. Recently, many Vietnamese people have been allowed to reside legally.

Many Vietnamese people run their own private business in Belarus like restaurants and shops, and local authorities ensure their security, freedom and rights. The Vietnamese embassy in Belarus has helped maintain a close relationship with representatives of the Vietnamese community there.

Are there any obstacles which need to be overcome to improve our co-operation in the fields of business, culture, education and other areas?

At the moment, our main bilateral co-operation is in the field of economic-trading. Our two economies support each other. Enterprises in both countries don't compete against one another in the world market. Though the two countries are geographically located far from each other, which sometimes hinders transportation, the bilateral relationship has been actively developed.

Belarus at a Glance

Area: 207,600

Population: More than 9.7 million

Capital: Minsk

Language: Belarusian, Russian

Currency: Belarus ruble

National Flag: Red and green horizontal strips, a vertical red and white ornamental pattern.

Last year, bilateral goods-trading and service-exchange turnover reached US$100 million. The amount of exchanged goods has doubled in the past three years but there is still much to be done, as the previously mentioned figure is less than both nations' potential.

The main factor affecting our present trading is that both sides have not exchanged information actively enough, such as information on goods and services available in our countries, and the characteristics and prices of those goods.

Cultural co-operation between us has also been promoted, and co-operation in science, education and health have been increasingly active.

Viet Nam's cinema workers have joined the film festival in Belarus and both sides have implemented student-exchange programmes.

At the end of May, many Vietnamese citizens joined the Global Education forum in Minsk at a gathering of international alumni of Belarus' universities.

What do you think should be done to further promote bilateral trade between the two countries, especially between small and medium-sized enterprises?

First of all, these enterprises should take advantage of the conditions offered in the two countries based on signed agreements, so as to further promote their activities.

A fireworks display in Minsk was part of Belarus Independence Day celebrations. - AFP/VNS Photo

During State and head-of-state level visits, ministries and enterprises have been mobilised to join the process, which has created direct relationships between the concerned agencies of both sides.

We think the main directions in mutual interest in the field of economic-trading are:

Firstly, buy in Viet Nam and directly export to Belarus goods that Belarus does not produce including raw materials to produce goods in Belarus;

Secondly, build joint-ventures to produce goods in Viet Nam to export to other Southeast Asian countries;

And thirdly, build joint ventures to produce products of Belarus and Viet Nam to enhance competitiveness of the goods by closer access to the sources of raw materials and reduce the products' prices.

At present, we import rice, seafood, ground nuts, tea, coffee, pepper and spices from Viet Nam. We want to import greater amounts of these items in future. Belarus recently bought many computer accessories from Viet Nam and we're happy to see that this industry has been so well developed in Viet Nam. This is one of the foundations for the two sides' co-operation in the field of electronics.

We also have various long-term projects for assembly and technology-transfer in machinery manufacture, electronics, optics and medicine-production.

Belarus produces more than 30 per cent of the world's exported kalium fertiliser, 8 per cent of the world's rickshaws (last year, the rickshaw-producing factory in Minsk was in the top three of the largest rickshaw factories in the world), 30 per cent of the world's heavy-weight tipper lorries and a sizeable amount of the world's electronic chips.

Belarus is an industrial nation with well developed machinery-manufacturing, which may be useful for the industrialisation of Viet Nam.

Developing trade between the two countries is the main mission; the most important priority. In the next year or two, we will reach a turnover of US$200 million in exchanged goods and bilateral services.

What do you think about the changes in Viet Nam since you started working here four years ago?

Viet Nam has developed dynamically . When I visit localities in the country, I see new factories, completed infrastructures, business centres, modern hotels, etc.

Viet Nam has scored high economic development indexes with improved social conditions, which has enhanced foreign investors' trust in the country.

This is the result of the policies that Vietnamese leaders have applied and of the efforts of the Vietnamese people.

Belarus's President highly appreciated and expressed his admiration of Viet Nam's achievements during his recent visit.

I hope Viet Nam will not stop at what she has achieved. We wish the people of Viet Nam even greater prosperity and happiness in future. - VNS