Deputy News Editor
BELARUSIAN Deputy Prime Minister, Mr Piotr Parkhomchik, arrived in Zimbabwe yesterday and is expected to hold bilateral meetings with various ministries as the two countries seek to deepen their long standing cordial relations.
Mr Parkhomchik was welcomed at the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport by Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister, Ambassador Frederick Shava.
In a short statement after his arrival, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said: “The visiting Belarusian Deputy Prime Minister will hold bilateral consultations with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, and the Ministry of Agriculture.
“The high level visit from Belarus is expected to take the already excellent relations between Zimbabwe and Belarus to a high level.”
Zimbabwe and Belarus enjoy cordial relations and trade volumes between the two Republics have steadily risen since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1992.
Last year, trade between the two countries stood at US$25 million with Belarus exporting mainly agriculture and mining equipment while Zimbabwe exported mainly agricultural produce.
A statement from the Belarus Embassy website indicates that 15 international documents have been signed between the two countries, with more than a dozen agreements in progress.
In 2011, the late Vice President Landa John Nkomo visited Belarus and since 2015, bilateral contacts have intensified, with delegations of both States repeatedly visiting each other.
In January 2019, President Mnangagwa visited Belarus and sealed nine agreements with that country’s President Aleksandr Lukashenko.
The two leaders committed to strengthen co-operation in various sectors that include agriculture, mining, infrastructural development and science and innovation.
Since that visit, there have been several high-level visits between the two countries and Zimbabwe has obtained two financing facilities of US$50 million and US$51 million for the modernisation of the agricultural sector.
President Mnangagwa officially launched the Belarus Farm Mechanisation Facility in September 2020 at the Institute of Agricultural Engineering in Hatcliffe, Harare.
Co-operation on the business front is ongoing and in 2019, the Eastern European country had a stand at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) marked “Made in Belarus”.
The first Belarusian-Zimbabwean Business Forum, with the participation of the Belarusian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BelCCI) and the Zimbabwean National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC), was held.
The launch in July 2021 of the Forestry and Fire Fighting Equipment Facility procured through Aftrade DMCC following financing by the Belarus Government, was another significant development in the two countries’ relations and has contributed to the recapitalisation of Allied Timbers Zimbabwe.
Other investments and support Zimbabwe has received from Belarus include the investment by the Bison Agro Machinery Company in Willowvale, with the concomitant knowledge and skills transfer; the equipment at Hwange Colliery and at the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company in Chiadzwa provided by Belaz, a major global manufacturer of mining dump trucks and transport equipment for mining and construction and the supply of buses.