From trade – to industrial cooperation

№ 1, 2023

The African continent is a large market embracing a number of rapidly develop­ing countries with high potential for partnerships develop­ment.

As far as the region between ­Southern and Eastern Africa is concerned, Zimbabwe may be considered an entry point. Belarus has quite a long co­operation story with this country.

The highest and high level visits of the last 10 years have given further impetus to bilateral cooperation in various fields.

Zimbabwe is a promising market for Belarusian agricultural and quarry equipment, mining industry equipment, and food products, which is evidenced by numbers. In 2021, bilateral trade amounted to 25 million US dollars with exports in the amount of 16.5 million. And in January – November 2022, mutual trade in goods reached 38.6 million US dollars (Belarusian export – 29.6 million dollars). 


The flagship project, implemented with the active participation of the two countries' businesses, is cooperation in the field of agricultural mechanization in Zimbabwe. Over the past three years, more than two thousand tractors, harvesters and other agricultural machines have been delivered. A number of investment projects have been launched in agriculture, mining, and industrial cooperation. In 2020, a service center was opened to maintain Belarusian equipment; a spare parts warehouse was organized. There are three regional service centers in Zimbabwe for warranty and service maintenance of the supplied equipment. They are located in the capital city Harare, as well as in Mutare and Bulawayo.

It's worth noting that after the official visit to the Republic of Belarus of the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe Emmerson Mnangagwa in 2019 there has been significant intensification in the development of business contacts, including through the Chambers of Commerce and Industry.

Thus, in April 2019, the Belarusian Chamber of Commerce and Industry organized a business visit and a ­Belarusian exposition at the 60th ­Zimbabwe International Trade Fair in Bulawayo. And in April 2022, Belarus presented its national exposition at this exhibition.

The state visit of the Belarus' President Aleksandr Lukashenko to Zimbabwe on January 30-31 was a new stage in cooperation with the Zimbabwean side. The visit was an occasion to take stock of the work already done, identify new areas for strengthening cooperation, and also launch new joint projects.

On the eve of the state visit, the Belarus-­Zimbabwe business forum was held in Harare. Organized by the BelCCI together with the ­Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce, the event brought together dozens of heads of ministries, departments and companies on both sides. It provided a great opportunity to communicate in various formats, to show capabilities and tour local enterprises, conduct business negotiations and sign memorandums, agreements and contracts.


The business forum was opened by the First Vice President of the Republic of Zimbabwe Constantino Chiwenga, Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Belarus Piotr Parkhomchyk, Minister of Industry and Commerce of Zimbabwe Sekai Nzenza, President of the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce Mike Kamungeremu, Chairman of the Belarusian Chamber of Commerce and Industry Mikhael Miatlikov.

The First Vice President Constantino Chiwenga lauded the warm relations between the two countries. Their gradual strengthening was facilitated, among other things, by previous visits at the highest and high levels.

"The forum is an ideal platform to exchange views, knowledge and information on economic development. I hope it will help us exchange experience and knowledge that will further unlock the full potential that both parties have," he said. "There are plenty of opportunities in Zimbabwe to invest in a wide variety of industries. These are agriculture, mining, tourism, energy, transport, education, and many others. Our priority is to facilitate the conditions for doing business. This is part of our strategy for economic and political development through 2025, when we plan to take the country to a brand new qualitative level of development. Today I was glad to learn that our Belarusian partners are ready to invest in the development of industrial cooperation with Zimbabwe."

According to Deputy Prime Minister Piotr Parkhomchyk, both parties have already done a tremendous amount of work to develop cooperation. The trade between Belarus and Zimbabwe has increased sevenfold since 2018.

"Belarus has something to offer its Zimbabwean partners in addition to the projects it is already implementing. These are cargo, passenger, road-building equipment, consumer goods, food, pharmaceutical products and many other things that can bene­fit the Zimbabwean people," Piotr ­Parkhomchyk  said.

Besides, according to him, Belarus is interested in the products manufactured in Zimbabwe: "As a member of the Eurasian Economic Union, Belarus is ready to become a bridge between Eurasia and Southern Africa. The economies of Belarus and Zimbabwe are complementary. We are confidently moving forward and gradually coming to a more modern and multidimensional economic relationship through trade."

Addressing the forum participants, the Chairman of the BelCCI Mikhael Miatlikov noted that the Belarusian business has a real interest and specific proposals for the development of cooperation and the implementation of joint projects with Zimbabwean partners. The delegation included heads of 33 leading domestic organizations and enterprises. These were industrial flagships that are already successfully ope­rating in the market of Zimbabwe and look forward to deepening cooperation, as well as enterprises of other areas of mutual interest: meat and dairy, pharmaceutical companies, manufacturers of light industry goods, representatives of the logistics sector, education, and other areas. 


Mikhael Miatlikov also underlined the effectiveness of holding bilateral business events in recent years, the participation of Belarusian enterprises in exhibitions in Zimbabwe. He invited Zimbabwean business circles to visit Belarus and take part in major international business and exhibition projects to be held this year. "On behalf of the Belarusian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, I can assure you that we will do our best to provide Zimbabwean and Belarusian companies with the necessary support and assistance," he said.

Zimbabwe has benefited greatly from bilateral relations with Belarus in various sectors, said Mike Kamungeremu, President of the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce. These include agriculture, mining, energy, infrastructure development, science, technology and innovation. "One of the goals of today's event is to expand the range of these industries in order to include such sectors as healthcare, food production, light and heavy industries, production and use of fertilizers, education," he said.

Zimbabwe's Industry and Commerce Minister Dr Sekai Nzenza noted that 2023 is off to a very good start in bilate­ral relations: "We all see that relations between our states are ­strengthening. Relations between the private sectors are growing stronger. It is very gratifying to see such involvement in the development of these relations on both sides. Now is the time to implement all our agreements."

At the official opening ceremony of the business forum, a number of important documents were signed between the partners of Belarus and Zimbabwe.

Lidselmash and Minsk Motor Works signed agreements with AFTRADE DMCC to sell their products in ­Zimbabwe. Gomselmash signed a memo­randum of bilateral cooperation with its partners "to meet the demand of agricultural producers of the Republic of Zimbabwe for agricultural machinery".

Another memorandum of cooperation with AFTRADE DMCC was signed by Bobruiskagromash. The Bobruisk manu­facturer plans to supply its machinery and spare parts to Zimbabwe.

A memorandum of strategic partnership was signed between Minsk Tractor Works (MTZ trademark) and AFTRADE DMCC as part of the promotion of ­BELARUS machinery in ­Zimbabwe. In addition, the Confederation of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs ­(Employers) of Belarus and the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries signed a memorandum of cooperation.

According to the document signed at the forum in Harare, MTW will supply more than 3,5 thousand tractors to Zimbabwe in 2023–2024. In the future, the number of tractors and terms of delivery will be determined based on the results of negotiations with Zimbabwean agricultural enterprises.

During the presentation part of the event, the participants got acquainted with the investment opportunities of Zimbabwe, the tools to support Belarusian exports and the potential of Belarusian companies in the fields of industrial production, meat and dairy industries. Practical examples of successful Belarusian-Zimbabwean co­operation were considered.

The official part of the event was followed by B2B negotiations. In addition, a tasting of meat and dairy products of Belarusian companies was organized for the Zimbabwean guests of the forum.

The Belarusian delegation's business program in Zimbabwe continued at the production sites of the Zimbabwean enterprises – potential partners.

The visit of Belarusian business was another proof that the countries are determined to firmly and further develop economic relations and partnerships. There are new successful projects ahead in various spheres.