Attracting investment to Belarus has been a priority in the country for a number of years. However, as the country's minister of economy, Nikolai Snopkov, told Courtney Fingar at an investment forum in London, the country can and will do better when it comes to FDI.
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The Belarusian president's economic advisor, Kiryl Rudy; the minister of the economy, Nikolai Snopkov; and deputy foreign minister Aleksandr E Guryanov explain to Andrew Wrobel the advantages foreign companies will gain from investing in Belarus.
Long established as a hub of manufacturing excellence among central and eastern European countries, Belarus is now targeting Western companies as it looks to demonstrate its openness and business credentials on a global scale.
The former Soviet republics that now make up the Commonwealth of Independent States have long been a fertile ground for German investors. This association is continuing to pay dividends, with German companies reaping the benefits of doing business in countries in which others in the West are more cautious about entering.
Belarus's expertise in nanotechnology is respected in the scientific community but has yet to attract the attention of the country's private sector. Professionals in the field hope that foreign investors can help fill this gap.
While many of its former Soviet peers were embracing privatisation programmes, Belarus shied away from such activity. However, the government has recently announced that it will be conducting tenders for many of its state-owned companies, and while foreign companies face a few obstacles should they want to get involved, first-mover advantages might be worth considering.
Hi-Tech Park in Belarus is a growing hub for both regional and international software and IT firms that offers its registered businesses economic incentives. This is one example of how the eastern European country is capitalising on its highly skilled workforce of engineers, which has also attracted the attention of the likes of Microsoft and NEC.
There is a common perception that investing in Belarus is only for the risk-takers. However, the country can point to many examples of companies large and small operating successfully within it. The key, according to those working in the country, is in the preparation.
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