Business and diplomacy: promoting the country's economic potential

№ 4, 2020

In its work on export promotion and supporting Belarusian business community, the Belarusian Chamber of Commerce and Industry actively cooperates with the embassies of the Republic of Belarus abroad and with foreign diplomatic missions in our country. In close connection with these institutions, the BelCCI regularly arranges business missions abroad and receives business delegations, holds business forums, meetings and round-table discussions with the participation of Belarusian businessmen seeking to enter the world market and foreign companies' representatives.

Besides, it has become a BelCCI's tradition to organize activities with the participation of the heads of the diplomatic missions accredited to the Republic of Belarus and foreign diplomats responsible for trade and economic affairs. Such activities are called "Commercial Counselor Days". They are held annually in various regions of Belarus to promote the country's economic potential. The events are very important as they provide the opportunity to present the resources of the regions, their investment, economic and industrial potential. Diplomats visit major enterprises and historical sites, get acquainted with the products of Belarusian manufacturers. Besides, the practice of holding such meetings back to back with major cultural events and ethnographic festivals allows foreign diplomats to get acquainted not only with the Belarusian economy, but also with its cultural traditions, cuisine, and traditional hospitality.

Thus, since 2013, the Belarusian Chamber of Commerce and Industry has been organizing the participation of the representatives of the diplomatic missions accredited to our country in festive events as part of "Kupalye" holiday ("Alexandria Gathers Friends") in Alexandria agrotown, Mogilev region.

This year, the holiday was held on July 11–12. 35 heads and representatives of diplomatic missions from 16 countries took part in it with the BelCCI.

The diplomats visited the School of the first President of the Republic of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko and local museum at the State Educational Establishment "Alexandria Secondary School, Shklov Region", had meetings with Igor Sergeenko, Head of the Administration of the President of the Republic of Belarus, Igor Petrishenko, Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Belarus, and Leonid Zayats, the Mogilev Region Executive Committee Chairman.

A business briefing was held at the premises of Atrium shopping and business center of Mogilev with the participation of the BelCCI Chairman Vladimir Ulakhovich, the Chairman of the Mogilev City Executive Committee Vladimir Tsumarev, and Deputy Chairman of the Mogilev Region Executive Committee Ruslan Strakhar. The diplomatic corps representatives were informed about the economic and tourist potential of the Mogilev region.

Summing up the meeting in Mogilev, Vladimir Ulakhovich said: "The business briefing with the participation of foreign diplomats is one more opportunity to meet and discuss existing joint projects and new initiatives for further cooperation development."

The next stop of the diplomatic corps representatives was Trafimava Krynitsa spring in the Shklov district. Also, heads and employees of foreign embassies took part in the opening of "Kupalye" holiday ("Alexandria Gathers Friends"), attended a folk crafts fair and a gala concert.

In continuing cooperation with foreign diplomatic missions, on August 28–29, the Belarusian Chamber of Commerce and Industry organized the Commercial Counselor Day in the Gomel region. The potential of the region was presented to representatives of the embassies of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Iran, Lithuania, Pakistan, Palestine, Russia, Sudan, and Uzbekistan.

The key event within the framework of the Commercial Counselor Day was the Mozyr Economic Forum, hosted by the region executive committee on the 28th of August. Opening the event, the Chairman of the BelCCI noted that Mozyr and Polesie in general have unique importance for the economic development of the country. Mozyr is one of the 11 cities in Belarus which are the main focus for maintaining rapid socio-economic growth in the upcoming five years. The main task is to use the potential of Polesie, convert it into export supplies, new industries and technologies. "Any business begins from the very first step, so the introductory component is essential. And the forum is not only aimed at making the diplomats acquainted with the potential of the district, but can be seen as a step towards new economic relationships, and, what is most important, to new export contracts," Vladimir Ulakhovich stressed.

The Chairman of the Mozyr District Executive Committee Elena Pavlechko informed the guests about the economic and investment potential of the district. She presented the Mozyr District as an effective platform for investment and mutually beneficial cooperation, emphasizing that the district's economy is characterized by a balanced structure. "Besides, the region stands out for its beneficial economic and geographical, geopolitical position, social and economic stability, good natural and climatic conditions, high scientific and technical potential, and highly qualified personnel. An important element of the district's investment attractiveness is the level of business infrastructure development", Elena Pavlechko said.

The heads of Mozyr Machine-Building Plant, JSC "Belaruskabel", MPUE "Mozyr Dairy Products" and Mozyr Woodworking Plant delivered presentations of the capabilities and resources of these companies. Also, the attention of commercial counselors was drawn to the investment project "Ice Rink in Mozyr". After the end of the forum, the diplomats visited the largest enterprises of the region – Mozyrsalt OJSC and Mozyr Oil Refinery. As a result of the forum and negotiations with the management of these enterprises, new contacts were established, which will provide a solid foundation for close economic ties in the future.

On August 29, the diplomats continued their acquaintance with the region and its historical and cultural heritage. On this day, the diplomatic corps representatives had a meeting with the Deputy Minister of the Republic of Belarus Aleksander Subbotin and the Chairman of the Gomel Region Executive Committee Gennady Solovey, participated in the gala opening of the International Festival of Ethnocultural Traditions "Call of Polesie" in Lyaskovichi agrotown, and visited some farmsteads and tourist sites.

Trade and economic relations were high on the agenda of the meeting with Alexander Subbotin and Gennady Solovey. The Deputy Prime Minister and the head of the Regional Executive Committee mentioned that the epidemiological situation had made corrections to the plans for the region's development this year. At the same time, they expressed confidence that the joint efforts of the leadership of the country and the region, businessmen and the diplomatic corps will result in the strengthening of trade relations between Belarus in general, the Gomel region in particular, and the countries represented by commercial counselors.

During the Commercial Counselor Day, the idea was born to make diplomats acquainted with the work of Belarusian enterprises of different branches. The first such branch-specific event was dedicated to woodworking and furniture production and held at the premises of Ivatsevichdrev OJSC, a Brest Region flagship in woodworking and furniture production. Participating in the event were heads and representatives of the diplomatic missions of Bulgaria, Georgia, India, Iran, Israel, Japan, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Moldova, North Korea, Palestine, Poland, Sudan, Syria, Turkey, Ukraine, Venezuela.

While visiting Ivatsevichdrev OJSC, the diplomats got informed on the potential of Belarusian woodworking industry at the business briefing with the participation of the BelCCI Chairman Vladimir Ulakhovich, Deputy Chairman of the Bellesbumprom concern Alexander Pshenny, Deputy Chairman of the Brest Region Executive Committee Dmitry Gorodetsky, Chairman of the Ivatsevichi District Executive Committee Alexander Gritsuk, the leadership of woodworking enterprises. Besides, they toured the company's premises and studied the production of furniture and chipboard.

Also, the program of the event included familiarization of the representatives of diplomatic institutions with the production of furniture at Polipol Furniture Bel LLC, presentations of the Brestmyasomolprom holding enterprises and exporting companies of Ivatsevichi District, visits to the T.Kosciuszko Memorial Estate Museum and the Palace of the Puslovskys in Kossovo.

Thus, the annual Commercial Counselor Day held by the Belarusian Chamber of Commerce and Industry allows representatives of trade and economic services of foreign diplomatic missions to establish direct contacts with Belarusian businessmen, facilitates the work on popularization and promotion of domestic exports, and also contributes to the strengthening of business ties and relationships of friendship between Belarus and other countries.

The BelCCI Chairman said: "This is an established practice, and I want to say, it is of great interest to the diplomats, since it implies direct contacts with manufacturers, an opportunity to see their technological level. Most importantly, this type of communication produces tangible results. I know of several examples when diplomats' visits to our enterprises resulted in contracts for the supply of Belarusian products."