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Makei: Belarus intends to strengthen its diplomatic presence in Southeast Asia

MINSK, 26 March (BelTA) - Belarus intends to increase its diplomatic presence in Southeast Asia, Foreign Minister of Belarus Vladimir Makei told reporters when asked by BelTA about the outcome of President Alexander Lukashenko's visits to Indonesia and Singapore.

“We intend to strengthen our diplomatic presence in the region. We intend to work actively with other member countries of ASEAN through Indonesia and Singapore given that these countries are members of the organization. I am convinced that this visit, which gave considerable impetus to the development of our cooperation with the region, will pay off in the future with new contracts and agreements, "the minister said.

Vladimir Makei noted the past visits were widely covered in the media, but he was surprised by statements made by some narrow-minded economists from the opposition who say: "Why did we go there? We gained nothing; we have no prospects there.” "All in all we signed agreements and contracts worth $400 million during the visits to the region. Tell me is it bad or good for the country?” the head of the Foreign Ministry asked a rhetorical question.

According to him, Belarus and Indonesia signed seven international agreements, including in the economic area. One agreement was concluded between market participants. In addition, several letters of intent were signed which will eventually translate into specific figures for trade and economic cooperation.

“Apart from the contracts and agreements aimed at the improvement of the legal framework of our cooperation with this region, we have reached concrete agreements to set up joint companies to produce tires, our equipment in Indonesia, supplies of Belarusian agricultural and industrial products there. We are not competitors with Indonesia in this area. Our economies are complementary, and we have many areas of common interest,” Vladimir Makei noted. “Some big businessmen and companies of Indonesia are expected to come to Belarus and develop cooperation in the agricultural area,” the minister added.

While in Singapore, the Belarusian delegation signed two intergovernmental agreements and two memoranda of cooperation between the Belarusian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the relevant entities representing the business of Singapore. “The President of Belarus suggested opening up a subsidiary of Singapore at the China-Belarus Industrial Park, for instance, or on some separate territory. The Singaporean authorities showed interest in the idea, and we will work on it,” Vladimir Makei said.

Belarus is also interested in the Singaporean experience of economic reforms. “We are export-oriented states. It was important for representatives of our various ministries and agencies to talk with Singaporean counterparts and learn what steps Singapore took back then to turn into a financial and economic hub of Southeast Asia,” Vladimir Makei said.

Business forums were held both in Indonesia and Singapore to intensify business cooperation, present Belarus’ potential and prospects for bilateral cooperation.