Economic modernization has been suggested by the Belarusian President as a major instrument to enhance competitiveness and maintain national security. It is viewed as a timely and most adequate response to challenges and threats posed by downturns of the global economy. Globalization, acceleration of scitech progress, and growth of transnational corporations toughen up competition on the international market in terms of speed and quality of innovations.
From the earliest times the humankind has been using wood to build houses, make furniture and home decoration. Wood processing products are an integral part of our everyday life. Belarus abounds with wood raw materials. Using an uninterrupted production cycle, from logging operations to wood processing, the country can fully meet domestic needs in wood products and export the rest to the demanding West and insatiable East. To boost Belarus’ wood processing capacities, companies working in the industry have launched a number of largescale upgrade projects, which, unfortunately, are not progressing smoothly.
The country has embarked on a largescale modernization of the manufacturing sector. Its major objectives and mechanisms have been outlined by President of the Republic of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko. During this fiveyear period the national economy is expected to make a quality breakthrough. In line with the socioeconomic development program for the period until 2015, GDP, industrial output and real income of the population are to increase more than 1.5 times. The major driving force behind the growth will be technical upgrade and establishment of innovative companies and facilities.
What is the difference between modernization Belarusstyle and modernization Europestyle? What do Western investors think of the business climate in Belarus? These and other questions are addressed to
Mr Janez Skrabec, Director of the Slovenian company Riko d.o.o. that has been operating in Belarus for about two decades already.
The socioeconomic development targets set for Belarus in 2012 were pretty tough. The country did its best to meet them and the efforts resulted in the $3 billion commodity trade surplus, something that had not happened in many years.
The energy efficiency topic is getting increasingly relevant in Belarus and the entire civilized world. Limited resources and high energy costs prompt the country to find ways to reduce energy consumption. An emphasis is placed on residential housing because it is a major energy consumer accounting for about 35% of all heat energy consumed in Belarus! Taking into consideration that 80% of energy resources is imported, heat losses translate into considerable amounts of foreign currency going down the drain.
Labor migration is a very complicated issue. It has always been so in all the countries of the world, because it has not only economic but also social and political implications. Although hardly anyone knows the real scale of labor migration, a lot has been said about its reasons and consequences, its good and bad sides. You would agree that one cannot make a fair judgment about it without verified facts and figures that are a cornerstone for subsequent conclusions. Unfortunately, the statistics on labor migration are inadequate, which creates a perfect ground for various insinuations. The number of Belarusian migrant workers ranges from 100,000 to more than one million, according to various sources. Therefore, the labor migration issue is viewed from different economic and political perspectives.
What deposits are investors most interested in? What environmental protection measures are taken to offset the impact of mining operations? These and other questions are addressed to Minister of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection of the Republic of Belarus Mr Vladimir TSALKO.
The recent two or three years have seen an increased interest in publicprivate partnership in Belarus and elsewhere. PPP is discussed in newspapers, at scientific conferences, roundtable sessions, and seminars. International experts come to Belarus to share best practices. In 2011, the Academy of Public Administration offered a master’s course in the discipline “Management of investment projects in publicprivate partnership”. The curriculum of the fourthyear students now features the discipline “Mechanisms of publicprivate partnership”.
Such a breakthrough would have been impossible to achieve solely by expanding the export of individual commodities. The secret behind the breakthrough is dramatic transformation of Belarus’ export strategies. The details of Belarus foreign economic policy are unveiled in an interview with Deputy Foreign Minister of Belarus
Mr Alexander GURYANOV:
In early 2013 Belarus and the Czech Republic marked the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the diplomatic relations. Over this period the economic side of cooperation has evolved from simple bilateral trade to complex investment cooperation. The countries became important and reliable economic partners. Last year the bilateral trade, export of services and investments reached a record high. In his interview to the Economy of Belarus Magazine Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Belarus to the Czech Republic Mr Vasily Markovich speaks about the prospects of cooperation between Belarus and the Czech Republic as well as factors that can strengthen the already solid business ties.
Director of the Plastic Cards Department at Belarusbank Mr Anatoly Bogovik highlights the advantages of cashless payments and analyzes the development of the Belarusian market of bank cards in an interview with the Economy of Belarus Magazine.
In the future a usual plastic card will no longer be just a payment instrument but also an identification document and an insurance policy card. Belarus is set to develop a social card that will combine all these functions. Today the number of services provided by banks to plastic cardholders is pretty big. A bank card is the most popular epayment instrument used for cashless payments in the retail sector. Belarusians use bank cards to receive salaries and pensions, save money and get loans, give pocket money to kids and take part in charity events. Holders of VIPcards have even more opportunities. By the way, the VIP segment is experiencing a robust growth in the country. Belarusians have a variety of options when it comes to choosing a payment system, from domestic BelCard to international VISA and Master Card. Besides, some Belarusian banks started accepting American Express and UnionPay cards in their acquiring network. All major international payment systems will operate in Belarus by 2014.
The stock market plays an important role in the economy of any country. Despite possible differences in its organization in various countries, this market primarily focuses on accumulating money and redistributing it into promising branches of the economy. By selling government bonds on the stock market governments raise money to cover budget deficit. Using such instruments, central banks release their own securities to regulate the monetary resources in circulation. Regular participants are interested in the stock market as a way to invest money or borrow it on favorable terms.
The Belarusian leasing business is rather young when compared to other countries. Experts say that foreign leasing markets have had decades to evolve and now have the relevant legislation and infrastructure.
However, the trends witnessed in the last few decades indicate that in Belarus the volume of new business (the value of leasing contracts signed for one year) rises all the time. Even the foreign exchange crisis of the year 2011 could not slow down the growth. At present leasing contracts account for 2.5% of the country’s GDP while in 2007 the figure was as low as 1.9%. Experts believe that the growth rate is comparable to the European one.
What comes to your mind when you think about railways? Some people imagine shiny and blazing strips of metal, others remember the calming and soothing sound of wheels turning on the railroad track… the feeling of tranquility and safety. Most people going on longdistance trips choose railway transport for its reliability and safety. It is not just about the low accident rate but also excellent service. Belarusian Railways, the national rail operator, is investing tremendous effort to ensure a high level of customer satisfaction. Head of Belarusian Railways Mr Vladimir Morozov tells the Economy of Belarus Magazine about the company’s ambitions and new products and services.
Belarus is selfsufficient in meat and dairy products and is one of the largest exporters of these goods. From 20% to 25% of meat products and over 50% of the dairy products made in Belarus are exported.
Over the last five years the share of dairy and meat products in the total exports has been steadily growing, thus becoming major export commodities.
Chairman of the Lida District Executive Committee Mr Alexander Ostrovsky tells the Economy of Belarus Magazine about plans and aspirations of this unique ancient region.
Protos Group is a great success story of a private business in Belarus. Over the last 20 years a small metal structure workshop grew into a respectable company with products and services high in demand both in Belarus and abroad.
A while ago a new kind of railway transportation – urban commuter trains – was offered in Belarus. Belarusian Railways has bought ten trains in Europe. The move marked the beginning of the cooperation with Stadler Company and the cooperation is now approaching a new level. The Swiss side is investing money to build a factory to make electric transport in the industrial zone Fanipol, Minsk Oblast.
First of all, the largescale event showcased the opportunities of today’s Belarus, its trade, economic, scitech, investment, cultural, educational and tourism potential. The 6th BelarusianLatvian Investment Forum Baltic Region 2012 in Kipsala became a significant event as well, bringing together businessmen, manufacturers and financiers from the CIS
member states, Baltic and Scandinavian countries.
… Avicenna once said: “A doctor has three assistants: a word, a plant and a knife”. In modern language this statement should be translated as follows: professional excellence, advanced pharmacopoeia and modern technologies. The annual Healthcare in Belarus expo makes a considerable input in the development of these components.
Minsk will host the 20th forum TIBO on 2326 April. Specialists, heads of government agencies, companies and organizations of various branches of the economy, managers of leading domestic and foreign companies, and a large number of consumers will gather for the display of the latest products in communications, software and consumer electronics. All the residents of Belarus, preschoolers and pensioners alike, consume IT products even if they are not aware of it.
One of the fundamental freedoms people have always wanted to enjoy is, of course, the freedom of choice. This applies to any life situation and to any type of activity. Speaking about the retail sphere which we deal with on a daily basis, the freedom of choice means, first of all, the right to choose where to do our shopping. A survey recently conducted by the Sociology Institute of the National Academy of Sciences together with Nielsen, an international analytical firm, showed that rural residents want to have modern supermarkets offering a wide range of goods at affordable prices.
…It is nearly impossible for tourists coming to Novogrudok to believe that this town once was a metropolis in the great sovereignty. Now it looks nothing more than a little town of 30,000, a dozen factories, a handful of hotels and cafes with a neat downtown... And only after the bus reaches the ancient castle hill, the words of a tour guide describing the greatness of the second Belarusian capital stop sounding like exaggeration.
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