By Ignaty Yelfimovsky
“Located at the crossroads of logistic networks and having the world’s second largest commercial port of Antwerp, Belgium is greatly interested in Belarus as the nearest point to continental China, with whom western businesses are vigorously developing relations,” stresses the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Belarus to Belgium and Belarus’ permanent representative to the European Union, Andrei Yevdochenko.
From January-May 2011, Belarusian exports to Belgium more than doubled, making 212 percent against the same period of 2010. Belarus’ overall exports to the EU made 208 percent. “We aren’t just focusing on trade, which would be the easiest path for us at present. Rather, we see the development of industrial co-operation and the attraction of foreign direct investments as priorities,” the Ambassador notes, adding that the latter can come to Belarus from any sphere. Belgium is already investing in Belarus’ machine building and agricultural processing — primarily, flax processing.
European businesses are now attentively eyeing Belarusian assets, considering participation in their privatisation. The EU is currently facing an economic depression, with many European businesses relocating to China, India and Brazil; the CIS, including Belarus, also offers potential in this respect. Analysts stress that, in the coming decade, countries outside the EU will account for about 70-85 percent of global GDP growth. Some blame for the EU’s economic depression lies with the excessive development of the service sector, leaving tough times in the wake of the bursting of the financial bubble, as Mr. Yevdochenko tells us.
Economists are discussing how best to ensure industrial revival within the EU. At the recent International Economic Forum in Brussels, most European businesses noted that closer economic ties with foreign states would aid economic revival across the EU. “With this in mind, Belarus has good prospects,” asserts Mr. Yevdochenko.