Belarus and China share more than 20 years of cooperation and friendly relations. The two countries apply common principles in their domestic and foreign policy and have been extending their economic and humanitarian ties in all directions. The main document coordinating the interaction between the two countries is the program on all–round strategic cooperation till 2018. A state visit of China President Xi Jinping to Minsk in May 2015 gave a new impetus to the Belarus–China cooperation. The fact that the head of one of the world’s powerful nations personally came to visit Belarus was deemed as epochal by many experts, especially since an impressive number of long–term agreements and documents were signed.
Belarus–China cooperation has been developing fruitfully and dynamically across the board for many years. The two countries enjoy an active dialogue and exchange visits at the high and top levels.
The undoubtedly largest bilateral project – the construction of the China–Belarus industrial park Great Stone – was officially launched in June 2014. In essence a modern city focusing on high–technology competitive enterprises of tomorrow is being built near the Belarusian capital city. A self–sufficient territorial and economic entity is being created. The park is a new instrument for raising investments in Belarus. It represents a new model based on public private partnership principles. According to preliminary calculations, investments by the resident companies will vary from $1.4 billion to $3.7 billion in 2016–2020. The project has already been labeled as one of the engines of the national economy.
For the Belarusian broadcasting and communication industry the year 2015 is quite remarkable: the 4G technology will be made available in Belarus this autumn, major efforts are exercised to bring fiber optics into Belarusian homes, and the first Belarusian communication satellite Belintersat 1 will be put into orbit in the period from December 2015 through March 2016. Why does Belarus need a communication satellite of its own? Who will be able to use the satellite’s services? And how will the communication industry develop later on?
Today digital banking is obviously in trend. Customers like to pay for purchases and open savings accounts with a couple of clicks at any time of day. Banks are eager to grow their business without investing in construction and maintenance of branches. Governments, in turn, encourage digitalizing of banks in view of increased transparency of virtual operations and accessibility of financial services. The advantages are countless. Therefore the number of digital banking proponents has been rapidly growing. To stay ahead of competition, banks and other players offer their customers more convenient and more efficient services. Belarus is also getting ready to take a leap towards the digital future. A relevant draft decree has been elaborated and by the end of the year a development strategy of digital banking technologies for 2016–2020 will be presented.
New rules for selling and buying foreign currency via the Belarusian Currency and Stock Exchange came into effect on 1 June. Instead of fixed prices, orders for selling and orders for buying foreign currency are matched against each other. Known as continuous order matching, it is the most popular mechanism in the world. It allows increasing the role of market factors in shaping the exchange rate of the national currency and reduces the need for the National Bank’s involvement in exchange trading. Representatives of the financial sector believe that the timing for switching to the new rules was good.
Decree No. 69 “On the use of promissory notes” effective 21 May 2015 is meant to enhance export of national goods via application of forfeiting. This financial method is relatively simple in its application and is beneficial not only for exporters but also other participants of forfeiting. It is expected that such measures will produce a multifaceted result: not only will they further competitiveness of Belarusian goods, but also will reduce the indebtedness of local manufacturers. Olga VOYTOVA, the chief specialist of the non–banking operations department at the National Bank, provides insightful information on the matter.
The residence principle in the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) is considered to be one of the main barriers in trade. Yet so far, due to the current legislation, participants of foreign economic activities have to file customs declarations of the goods they import/export in the country where they are residents. What will Belarusian businesses gain if the residence principle is abolished and why this issue has not been solved yet? Vladimir GOSHIN, Member of the Board – Minister in Charge of Customs Cooperation of the Eurasian Economic Commission, gives his take on this.
Delicious bananas, picturesque volcanoes and the Galapagos Islands visited by the expedition of the great Charles Darwin – these are the associations that come to mind of many Belarusians in connection with Ecuador, a country conveniently located right on the equator. Not many of them know that today this Latin American country and Belarus are connected by more down–to–earth interests: Belarusian and Ecuadorian specialists have been implementing joint projects in exploration and production of hydrocarbons. In his interview to the Economy of Belarus Magazine Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Belarus to Ecuador Igor POLUYAN speaks about Belorusneft’s projects in Ecuador and reflects on whether nostalgic tourism can play an important role in the bilateral relations.
The ties between Belarus and Latvia are deeply rooted in history and based on geopolitics of the two countries located on the crossroads of the main transit ways between the East and the West, the South and the North. The two neighboring countries have a common interest in developing not only their relations but also their interdependence to some extent. Latvia is an important trading partner and investor of Belarus ranking 10th in direct investments in the Belarusian economy. It is also the biggest transit channel for Belarusian exports to third countries. Equally important is the fact that the relations between the two countries are not measured only with economic indicators as they are much closer and more wide–ranging. Belarusians constitute the second largest ethnic minority in Latvia. Recently the number of students in the Belarusian school in Riga has increased by 30%. Every year the interest Belarus and Latvia take in each other has been constantly growing.
The rate of motorization in Belarus is one of the highest among the former Soviet Union countries: 337.8 vehicles per 1,000 residents. As of 1 January 2013, there were 3,817,792 vehicles in Belarus. Of them 2,774,832 were privately owned cars. Over the past 10 years, the number of cars in Belarus has increased more than 2 times. As compared to the pre–perestroika period this number has grown more than 8 times, but the infrastructure has largely remained the same.
The Vitebsk Rolling Stock Depot, a transport unit of the Vitebsk Branch of the Belarusian Railways, is a winner of the Belarus Government Quality Excellence Award 2014. Thus the government has recognized the company’s achievements in the field of quality of services and works, efforts to promote innovative technologies and modern management methods, excellent customer service. It should be noted that the Vitebsk Rolling Stock Depot is the oldest enterprise of the Belarusian Railways. Its history began with the opening of a rail line from Dinaburg to Polotsk on 24 May 1866.
Private business in any economy is always associated with bold ideas, advanced technology, and popular brands. This is true for Belarus, too. Today you will be hard pressed to find anyone in Belarus who has not heard about such brands as Bobrov beer, Sochny juice, Mara washing powder or Krasa shampoo. Meanwhile, all these products have one person in common: Sergei Levin. Over the past 15 years he has implemented at least four successful investment projects in the food and cosmetic industries of our country. In an interview to the Economy of Belarus Magazine Sergei LEVIN, the Managing Director of Lebortovo Capital Partners, the Chairman of the Supervisory Board of the Sontsa perfumery and cosmetic factory and the head of Zvezda Capital, tells why he has chosen Belarus for business, shares his opinion about the industries that may be of particular interest to investors and tells the story of his first business project.
Development of commodity distribution networks abroad is a must for Belarusian producers aiming to successfully export their products. However, a well–functioning distribution network, smart logistics, marketing and advertising campaigns abroad are something that not every producer can pull off, especially when it comes to finances. The biggest retailer of Belarus has gained interesting experience in developing a scheme that now plays the role of a distribution network. This experience could be of help to relatively small companies without huge floating assets. An Economy of Belarus Magazine correspondent went to Russia’s Bryansk Oblast to see how this system works and to find out how the Belarusian retail network is doing in the Russian Federation, what milestones have been reached and what problems are there to be solved.
The domestic furniture market is one of the most competitive and rapidly developing sectors in Belarus. The industry is represented by over three hundred enterprises of various forms of ownership. In 2014 alone Belarus produced furniture worth Br8.4 trillion. More than 60% of the output was exported to 20 countries around the world. Belarusian manufacturers have established a reputation for producing high quality and affordable furniture from natural materials. How is the Belarus furniture business doing today? Can the industry retain its market share in the face of growing competition and contracting major markets?
Developing business initiatives, promoting business and, consequently, increasing the share of small and medium–sized enterprises (SMEs) up to 50% of the gross domestic product are the key objectives of the medium–term economic policy. The task is difficult but feasible. The support for young aspiring entrepreneurs and well–established businesses in the country is provided in a systematic manner. However, according to the statistics, only about 10% of the population has an entrepreneurial propensity. The so–called startup events are designed to help fledgling businessmen to see whether their ideas are viable and which way to go to minimize losses and maximize profits. In an interview with the Economy of Belarus Magazine, head of the department for science and innovations at the Belarus Economy Ministry Dmitry KRUPSKY tells about the startup movement in Belarus.
Belarus and Russia have been implementing joint space programs via the Union State format for 15 years. Every space exploration and rocket engineering project drives the development of other economy branches in addition to utilizing cutting–edge technologies. The Union State program Monitoring–SG is no exception. Belarusian and Russian specialists have been working on the program for about two years. The program’s innovative component has a certain focus on raising the reliability and the operating life of space craft, the working capacity and survivability of compact space craft used to remotely scan the Earth.
Belarus–Russia cooperation in innovative technologies has been progressively developing. To that end the two countries make use of all existing forms of cooperation. Contacts established under Skolkovo Foundation are one of them. In April 2015 Minsk took part in the Russian Startup Tour of Skolkovo Foundation. For two days the National Library of Belarus hosted workshops, master classes, presentations of technological projects of innovation teams. The competition gathered together innovators from all over the country and had a record high number of finalists for one city.
If you come to Shchuchin today you will notice a peculiar buzz in the town. New houses are being built, old buildings are being renovated, and all sorts of delegations are visiting the city. It seems to be a very young town. In fact, it is almost 500 years old. Its history is closely intertwined with that of its former rulers – the noble families of the Radziwills, the Scipions and the Drutskiya–Liubetskis. It is the region of architectural landmarks dating back to the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. It is the motherland of Aloiza Pashkevich, a legendary poetess also known as Tyotka. It is also a town of aviators: during the Great Patriotic War and after it, up until the perestroika, the town was home to one of the biggest air force bases, and town residents used to go to bed and wake up to the roar of jet turbines... Curiously enough, these important events of long–gone days are very important for the modern development of the town and the entire district. Chairman of the Shchuchin District Executive Committee Sergei LOZHECHNIK tells us about all that, as well as future plans of the district.
The construction of the nuclear power plant has radically changed the course of history of the Belarusian town of Ostrovets. It used to be just another town in the middle of nowhere but since then it has changed a lot. The old district capital has been renovated and beautified, all kinds of ads and banners of famous companies and private firms can be seen everywhere, the energy of engineers and construction workers has been added to the routine of the agricultural district. Foreign delegations visit the place frequently. Investors are weighing up the possibilities. Prices for land have gone up. The birth rate is on the rise. Chairman of the Ostrovets District Executive Committee Adam KOVALKO tells about the town’s development prospects.
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