- 11 Nov 2022
- 5 min read
Why in News?
Recently, the 11th Session of the India-Belarus Inter-Governmental Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientific, Technological and Cultural Cooperation was held.
What are the Highlights of the Session?
- The Intergovernmental Commission reviewed the results of bilateral cooperation that took place after the tenth session of the Commission in 2020.
- While expressing satisfaction at the progress made in regard to some projects, the Commission also directed concerned Ministries and Departments to focus on key sectors in the trade & investment spheres to finalise concrete outcomes.
- India and Belarus reiterated their strong desire to further broaden their cooperation with emphasis on key sectors such as pharmaceuticals, financial services, science and technology, heavy industries, culture, tourism, and education.
- The two ministers directed their respective business communities to engage with each other in these sectors to further mutually beneficial cooperation.
- The two sides agreed to promote cooperation among various states in India and regions in Belarus, especially in focus areas.
How Has Been India-Belarus Relations?
- Diplomatic Relations:
- India’s relations with Belarus have been traditionally warm and cordial.
- India was one of the first countries to recognize Belarus as an independent country in 1991 after the break-up of the Soviet Union.
- Supports at Multilateral Fora:
- The cooperation between the two countries is visible at many multilateral fora such as the UN Security Council (UNSC) and Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).
- Belarus was one of the countries whose support helped in consolidating India’s candidature for the non-permanent seat at the UNSC in July 2020.
- India has also reciprocated Belarus’s support at various international fora, such as Belarus’s membership in the Non Aligned Movement (NAM) and other international and multilateral groups like IPU (Inter-Parliamentary Union).
- Comprehensive Partnership:
- The two countries enjoy a comprehensive partnership and have established mechanisms for exchanging views on bilateral, regional and multilateral issues through Foreign Office Consultations (FOC), Intergovernmental Commission (IGC), and Joint Commission on Military Technical Cooperation.
- The two countries have signed a number of Agreements/MoUs on various subjects, including trade and economic cooperation, culture, education, media and sports, tourism, science & technology, agriculture, textiles, Avoidance of Double Taxation, Promotion and Protection of Investments, and defence and technical cooperation.
- Trade and Commerce:
- In the economic sector, the annual bilateral trade turnover in 2019 stands at USD 569.6 million.
- India’s special gesture in 2015 that granted Belarus the Market Economy Status and a USD 100 million Line of Credit has also helped in the growth in the economic sector.
- Market Economy status is a status conferred on the country exporting the goods accepted as the benchmark. Prior to this status, the country was considered as a Non-Market Economy (NME).
- India’s encouragement to the Belarusian businessmen to invest in ‘Make in India’ projects are bearing fruits.
- Indian Diaspora:
- The Indian Community in Belarus consists of around 112 Indian nationals and 906 Indian students pursuing studies in medicine in State medical universities in Belarus.
- Indian art and culture, dance, yoga, ayurveda, films, etc. remain popular among Belarusian nationals.
- Many young Belarusians also take keen interest in learning Hindi and dance forms of India.
- Belarus needs several footholds in Asia diversified by geographical subregions.
- India could become one of such pillars in South Asia, but Belarusian initiatives should definitely fall into the "matrix" of India's national interests and sacred meanings.
- There are also certain hidden reserves for cooperation in the field of cybersecurity.
- Belarus may become an "entry point" for Indian pharmaceutical companies to the Eurasian market.
- The potential of military and technical cooperation, including shared developments, has not been fully disclosed.
- Cinema (Bollywood) could stimulate the interest of the Indian business community and tourists.
- An additional increase in the export of tourism and medical services could be ensured by recreational centres being established in Belarus based on Indian traditional medicine models (Ayurveda + Yoga).