Johannesburg - South Africa has started talks to establish bilateral trade relations in agriculture with the Republic of Belarus, the department of agriculture, forestry and fisheries said on Monday.
A meeting was held in Pretoria on Sunday between the department and Victor Vladimirovich, special envoy of the president of Belarus, to discuss agricultural trade opportunities between South Africa and Belarus.
Working groups were established to facilitate bilateral co-operation between the two sides, the department said.
It said the Republic of Belarus wanted to inform South Africa of their potential in the agro-industrial and scientific sectors and discuss co-operation in general.
Agriculture accounts for 7.8 percent of Belarus' GDP.
Belarus also exports 40 to 60 percent of its agricultural products and is one of the leaders in the world in the export of meat and milk products.
A statement of intent was signed by the two parties to pave the way for further co-operation in the field of agriculture.
Minister of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Tina Joemat-Pettersson was pleased with the outcomes of the meeting.
“The signing of the statement of intent is just the beginning of an ongoing process between South Africa and Belarus. We will inform South Africans on the progress of the negotiations and partnerships,” Joemat-Pettersson said.
“We are confident that further discussions will identify key sectors and that new opportunities will be created for our farmers.”
She said there were countless opportunities for South African farmers in Eastern Europe, the rest of the African continent and in Central and South America.
“One of these opportunities lies in the import and exports of meat and dairy products to the Belarusians. At the moment, South Africa neither sends nor receives these products to or from Belarus.”
She said the Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) summit to be held in Durban later this month would expose the country to many opportunities in the international arena. - Sapa