From Europe to Southeast Asia: expanding business contacts online

№ 4, 2020

The global coronavirus outbreak has disrupted the usual process of external economic activity with both distant communication and personal meetings between counterparts from different countries. Such usual attributes of the export process as

face-to-face B2B negotiations, international business missions and exhibitions have become impossible for an indefinite time due to the closure of borders. With the introduction of quarantine, all business activity participants were forced to adapt to new realities. Online business events have been widely developed, methods of their organization and holding are being improved, the number of participating companies is increasing, and their geography is expanding.

In the situation where personal international contacts are restricted, the Belarusian Chamber of Commerce and Industry continues fulfilling its main task – to promote the expansion of foreign economic ties of Belarusian companies, and actively holds online events for business representatives of Belarus and foreign partners. In July – October, the BelCCI and its regional unitary enterprises organized online business meetings and negotiations with partners from Lithuania, Poland, Ukraine, Vietnam, Argentine, China, the USA, Moldova, and various regions of the Russian Federation. During these events, as well as at traditional meetings of business representatives, contacts are established, and mutually beneficial joint projects and contracts for the supply of Belarusian products are discussed. The speakers are heads of diplomatic missions, chambers of commerce and industry, representatives of line ministries, financial institutions, and heads of the enterprises that have successful experience in cooperation with foreign companies and are ready to share it. Participating businessmen have the opportunity to ask questions to speakers and exchange views online.

Belarus – Poland: cooperation during global challenges

On August 5, the Belarusian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, together with the Polish Chamber of Commerce and the Embassy of the Republic of Belarus in the Republic of Poland organized an online seminar "Belarus – Poland: Cooperation During Global Challenges".

Speakers at the seminar were the BelCCI Chairman Vladimir Ulakhovich, President of the Polish Chamber of Commerce Andrzej Arendarski, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Belarus to the Republic of Poland Vladimir Chushev, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Poland to Belarus Artur Michalski, Chairman of the Polish-Belarusian Chamber of Commerce and Industry Kazimierz Zdunowski. More than 150 representatives of Belarusian and Polish business joined the broadcast on Zoom and YouTube.

The seminar participants were informed on the current situation and prospects of Belarus-Poland trade and economic cooperation, the restrictions caused by the epidemiologic situation and the measures taken in both states to minimize the consequences of the decline in business activity.

The BelCCI Chairman noted that the chambers of commerce and industry of Belarus and Poland will make every effort to promote business relations between the two countries. "Of course, the pandemic unexpectedly intervened in our business, trade and economic relations. We did not expect this and did not plan it but we found ourselves in such conditions that force us to respond to this challenge, support our business, and promote bilateral trade and economic ties. This is a big mission of our chambers, this is our common determination to help even the smallest business," the head of the Belarusian Chamber of Commerce and Industry said.

President of the Polish Chamber of Commerce Andrzej Arendarski supported the idea: "We need to do everything possible to mitigate these consequences to prevent the trade from contracting further and to reverse the negative trend. Such online events will contribute to it as well."

Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Belarus to Poland Vladimir Chushev noticed that despite certain difficulties in the economies of almost all European countries, trade and economic cooperation between Belarus and Poland has gone through the phase of slowing down rather quickly. In terms of six-month forecast, we are still behind last year's performance, but since May we have seen a tendency towards improving the situation," said the diplomat.

Vladimir Chushev added that, according to statistics, Poland is the main market among the European Union countries for Belarusian export-oriented enterprises."Positive growth has been registered virtually across all major groups of exported goods. These are woodworking, metal, complex technical and agricultural products. Polish companies have been successfully implementing investment projects in various sectors of the Belarusian economy," the head of the Belarusian diplomatic mission said.

 Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Poland to Belarus Artur Michalski noted for his part that despite difficult economic conditions due to the pandemic, the neighboring countries were determined from the very beginning to find a way out of the situation: "Yes, a pandemic happened but we did not give up because we really need each other. Business cooperation needs to continue even during such a difficult situation. We will do our best to help each other, create necessary conditions, try to remove obstacles and restrictions so that business could keep running as it is a solid foundation of the relations between the two states".

During the seminar, the issues related to the introduction of new tools to promote bilateral cooperation were discussed as well as the possibilities and advantages of the Polish market entering by Belarusian construction companies.

Belarus – Vietnam: pushing the boundaries of strategic economic partnership

Despite the geographical distance and restrictions caused by the spread of coronavirus, the Republic of Belarus and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam are interested in increasing economic cooperation and expanding foreign trade ties. This was the main content of the online meeting "Belarus – Vietnam: pushing the boundaries of strategic economic partnership" organized on August 27 by the BelCCI together with the Center for Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship of the National Economic University of Vietnam with the assistance of the Belarusian Embassy in Vietnam and the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Addressing the meeting were Deputy Chairman of the BelCCI Denis Meleshkin, the President of the National Economics University of Vietnam Dr. Pham Hong Chuong, General Director of International Relations Department of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry Nguyen Tuan Hai, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Belarus to the Socialist Republic of Vietnam Vladimir Goshin, Commercial Counselor of the Embassy of Vietnam to Belarus Nguyen Tien Phuong, Chairman of the Vietnam-Belarus Business Council Nguyen Quang Hung, representatives of enterprises and organizations of the two countries.

More than 100 representatives of the Belarusian and Vietnamese business took part in the meeting. They were provided with current information about trade and economic cooperation between the countries, possibilities for trade and technological exchange, barriers that have arisen and measures to support enterprises, new perspective niches for businesses, as well as the strategies to restore and further develop mutually beneficial cooperation.

Thus, the participants underlined the recent achievements of the two countries, such as a multiple increase in trade turnover by the end of 2019, an increase in the factual volumes of Belarusian exports, the creation of joint ventures for the production of dairy products from Belarusian raw materials, the organization of the assembly of buses and trucks of Belarusian brands in Vietnam. Business is interested in deepening the partnership, and there is reason to believe that after the full recovery of business activity, bilateral relations will reach an even higher level.

The meeting included presentations of cooperation opportunities between Vietnamese enterprises with Bremino Group LLC and export financing tools offered by the Development Bank of the Republic of Belarus. Representatives of diplomatic missions and business support organizations presented existing mechanisms to facilitate the maintenance and establishment of business contacts.

Belarus – Moldova: new stages of economic cooperation

On September 23, the BelCCI together with the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Republic of Moldova organized an online meeting "Belarus – Moldova: new stages of economic cooperation". Participating in the meeting were the BelCCI Chairman Vladimir Ulakhovich, President of the CCI of the Republic of Moldova Sergiu Harea, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Belarus to Moldova Anatoly Kalinin, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Moldova to Belarus Victor Sorochan, representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Belarus, the Ministry of Agriculture and Food of Belarus, 95 representatives of Belarusian and Moldovan enterprises and organizations.

The online meeting addressed the topical issues of bilateral trade and economic cooperation in the conditions of the current challenges, new work formats and mechanisms to support businesses, the prospects for the enhancement of business interaction in the fields of agriculture and food production, mechanical engineering, IT and other, successful joint projects of Belarusian and Moldovan business.

The participants noted that even though the pandemic has affected the traditional Belarus-Moldova trade and economic relations, the companies have managed to maintain the existing positions on the markets of both countries. The products remain competitive and in-demand, the basis for further deepening of cooperation has been formed. The statistics for the first half of 2020 shows that there is a slight increase in Belarusian exports to Moldova comparing to the same period of the previous year, and there is every reason to believe that the tendency will remain in effect till the end of the year. The online meeting, as well as other events organized by the BelCCI and the CCI of Moldova, is supposed to facilitate it.

Belarus – Turkmenistan: prospects for bilateral cooperation

On September 30, the BelCCI, together with the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Turkmenistan, with the assistance of the Embassies of the two countries, organized an online meeting "Belarus – Turkmenistan: prospects for bilateral cooperation".

Addressing the meeting were Chairman of the BelCCI Vladimir Ulakhovich, Chairman of the CCI of Turkmenistan Dovletgeldi Rejepov, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Belarus to Turkmenistan Vyacheslav Beskosty, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Turkmenistan to Belarus Nazarguly Shagulyev, representatives of the Ministry of Industry and Construction Production of Turkmenistan, the Turkmen Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, the Rukhabat Textile Complex. More than 50 managers and representatives of the Belarusian enterprises operating in various fields joined the broadcast.

The speakers provided up-to-date information on the development of the Belarusian-Turkmen trade and economic cooperation, the barriers that have arisen, particularly in the logistics sector, as well as the measures taken to further expand bilateral cooperation, increase trade turnover and promote business contacts. There were held presentations of successful business projects of the two countries in the fields of pharmaceuticals manufacturing, industrial production and textile industry.

The BelCCI Chairman Vladimir Ulakhovich underlined the interest of Belarusian business community in the online meeting, which means there are good prospects for the development of Belarusian-Turkmen cooperation in all realms. Taking into account that the Belarusian participants represented almost all spheres of the economy and industry, he suggested holding a series of branch-specific online meetings and seminars, where representatives of the business circles of Belarus and Turkmenistan will be able to study in detail the possibilities of mutually beneficial cooperation in specific areas. The offer was supported by the CCI of Turkmenistan and the Embassies.

Representatives of Belarusian enterprises and organizations asked the speakers several questions, the answers to be given shortly upon careful consideration.