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The Ethiopian Chamber of Commerce and Sectorial Associations (ECCSA) held a Business to Business session with a high level delegation led by Deputy Foreign Minister Rybakov Valentin of the Republic of Belarus on Tuesday October 14th 2014. “The economic and trade relations between Ethiopia and Belarus is yet to reach the expected heights. For example, the total trade relation between the two countries was only USD 4.4 million in 2013, increasing from a mere USD 493,000 in 2004,” said Gashaw Debebe, Secretary General of ECCSA.
He further stated that Ethiopia’s export to Belarus is almost non-existent with the highest export recorded in 2012 amounting to just USD 184,000. It was further said that Ethiopia’s import from Belarus has been fluctuating with the highest being USD 8 million in 2007.
“All this indicates that, although the relation between the two countries has shown progress over the last two years, it has not reached its potential. The business environment in Ethiopia, I believe, will be to the interest and benefit of the two countries,” Gashaw said.
According to the Deputy Foreign Minister of Belarus, it should be noted that the visit was the first high level visit to Ethiopia and it also took place in the year where the 20th anniversary of establishing a diplomatic relationship between the two countries was celebrated.
“We are absolutely confident of the out come of the visit. It will contribute to the expansion of our economic and trade relations,” stated Valentin.
He further said that the delegation has held a successful consultative meeting with the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs where the discussion focused on a number of ways to expand cooperation in various areas such as political, economical, investment, cultural, education, tourism and humanitarian, among others.
“I can assure you that Belarus is ready to expand the relationship with Ethiopia in different areas and we know that Ethiopia one day will become a strategic partner for the Republic of Belarus,” Valentin stated.
Belarus opened its embassy in Ethiopia just last year making it the fourth embassy in Africa next to Egypt, Nigeria and South Africa.
“We are definitely hopeful that this will make us even closer and will provide the necessary forum for the expanding of our relationship. The structure of the Belarusian economy is export oriented; we have to sell around 60 percent of whatever we produce,” the deputy foreign minister added.
It was stated that the major export products from Belarus are fertilizers, oil and oil products, steel, trucks, tractors as well as agricultural products, among others.
Belarus produces 30 percent of all heavy duty dump trucks and 6 percent of tractors in the world. The country is also one of the major exporters of agricultural products.
The Deputy Foreign Minister Valentin also held talks with Ambassador Berhane Gebre-Christos, State Minister for Foreign Affairs.
During the meeting it was stated that the engagement of investors and business people from Belarus would advance the growth of Ethio-Belarus ties to harness opportunities. State Minister Berhane said Ethiopia always valued its relations with Belarus and stood committed to expand and strengthen ties.