China-Belarus ties to strengthen in trade, transport amid intensive ministerial visits
Published: Jun 05, 2023 09:25 PM
The Chinese-Belarusian Industrial Park Great Stone in Minsk, Belarus Photo: VCG

The Chinese-Belarusian Industrial Park Great Stone in Minsk, Belarus Photo: VCG

Chinese experts and traders are optimistic about deeper cooperation between China and Belarus, as they believe recent intensive Belarusian ministerial visits to China signal stronger economic and trade ties.

Three ministers from Belarus - Minister of Economy Aleksandr Chervyakov, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Food Vadim Shagoiko and Deputy Minister of Transport and Communications Sergei Dubina - made a group visit to China in early June and had meetings with their Chinese counterparts, according to official websites of various Chinese government agencies.

In a meeting between Zhao Zenglian, head of the National Office of Port Administration and Shagoiko, the two sides exchanged views on expanding bilateral agricultural food trade and making it easier for customs clearance, read a statement on the official website of the General Administration of Customs (GAC) on Monday.

During the visit, China's Vice Minister of Commerce and Deputy International Trade Representative Ling Ji co-hosted, along with Chervyakov, the 7th meeting of the Economic and Trade Cooperation Subcommittee of the China-Belarus Intergovernmental Cooperation Committee.

Ling said during the meeting that China supports the export of high-quality Belarusian products to China, and is willing to vigorously promote the high-quality development of the China-Belarus Industrial Park, a landmark project of China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative that connects Eurasia through industries.

Chinese experts and traders on Monday expressed optimism for deepening bilateral economic and trade relations amid the visits.

Purefine Wood Trade Agency, a Changzhou-based trading company in East China's Jiangsu Province, which has been doing business with Belarus since 2012, told the Global Times on Monday that its trade with Belarus this year so far is up 20-30 percent year-on-year.

Most of the products they get from Belarus are types of timber, a competitive product that has gained rising popularity in the Chinese market for their quality and price. Meanwhile, mechanical equipment and daily commodities from China's Yiwu, East China's Zhejiang Province, are among the most popular products in Belarus.

One good thing about China-Belarus trade is that Chinese traders can pay with yuan, Purefine Wood Trade Agency said. This settlement has helped them fend off the potential risks and costs from using the US dollar.

Under the strategic guidance of the leaders of the two countries, China-Belarus trade has grown rapidly.

Data from the GAC showed that bilateral trade reached $5.08 billion in 2022, a year-on-year increase of 33 percent, with both imports and exports achieving double-digit growth.

There is great potential for cooperation between China and Belarus. For example, bilateral trade growth is mainly through the China-Europe freight train. But transportation capacity is capped by underdeveloped overseas transportation facilities, inefficient port operations and booming demand, Purefine Wood Trade Agency said.

"If such issues can be tackled, trade would at least double," the company said.

Other areas of cooperation include agricultural development. China needs a reliable and stable supply of potash fertilizer for farming while Belarus is one of the world's largest exporters of such fertilizers. It accounts for around 20 percent of the world's total, Han Lu, associate research fellow with the China Institute of International Studies, told the Global Times on Monday.

Many Belarusian products are now difficult to export to Europe, which was to be their major market before the West's sanctions imposed after the Russia-Ukraine conflict, while China has the potential to become a much larger market, Han said.