Belarus is a young sovereign state, which pursues a peaceful multi-vector foreign policy. The moderate, constructive, consistent position of our state on the issues of international relations has received wide world recognition.
Over the years of independence, we have managed to preserve and increase the national wellness. Today, Belarus accounts for about one third of the global dump truck market, 17% for combines, 8% for tractors, 6.4% for flax fiber, 2.4% for dairy products. Every sixth ton of potash fertilizers in the world is produced in Belarus.
An important trait of the foreign policy of Belarus is economic diplomacy. Products with the brand «Made in Belarus» are known in 181 countries. We are represented in all regions of the world and actively participate in leading multilateral economic forums. Due to its favorable geographical position, our country is a transport corridor connecting the West and the East.
The Republic of Belarus is an export-oriented state with developed industry, agriculture and service sector. The country is a transport and logistics hub of the Eurasian region, located in the center of the Belt and Road Initiative. The favorable geographical position of the country became the basis for the dynamic development of the logistics sector.
Belarus is an active participant in the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) — a powerful integration with advanced scientific and educational experience, a developed industrial base and rich human potential.
Belarus ranks 49th among 190 countries in World Bank’s Doing Business 2020.
Since 2006, Belarus has jumped from the 120th position in the World Bank's Doing Business ranking to occupy the 57th place thanks to the measures it takes to improve the taxation system, simplify the procedure for registering property and companies, and others. Moreover, it has become one of the leaders across a number of indicators.
Today Belarus continues working to get into the top 30 countries in terms of the ease of doing business by 2025. It directs efforts at improving administrative procedures, taxation, pricing, licensing, preferential regimes for investors and protection of their rights.
The IT industry has been actively developed in Belarus: the High-Tech Park is successfully functioning, contributing to the promotion of Belarusian computer services to foreign markets as well as introduction of advanced information technologies to domestic enterprises.
Production and economic potential
The Republic of Belarus has a significant production and economic potential, which makes it possible to produce competitive industrial and agricultural products, transport passengers and goods, construct buildings and provide various services to the population and enterprises.
The main factors for the development of the production and economic potential of Belarus are:
- favorable economic and geographical position — the country is located in the center of Europe, through its territory there run the shortest paths from Russia, China, Kazakhstan, the countries of Central Asia and the North Caucasus to Western Europe;
- natural resource potential represented by potash salt and halite, building materials (granite, chalk and marl, build and glass sands), water, forest and land resources;
- the production potential accumulated in the Soviet years, preserved and multiplied during the independent years, which significantly exceeds the needs of the domestic market for particular products;
- high qualification and relatively low cost of labor resources;
- developed transport, telecommunications, energy, financial and industrial infrastructure;
- significant research potential;
- participation in free trade zones (within the CIS and with individual countries — Vietnam, Georgia, Serbia), as well as in the EAEU Customs Union, which includes Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia.
- GDP — Br147.0 billion (2020).
Main industries in Belarus
Belarus has a well-developed industrial sector, which accounts for around 26% of the country’s GDP (2018).
Some of its main industries are:
- tractors and agricultural equipment (Belarusian tractors are well regarded throughout the region);
- automotive industry (including dump trucks and earth movers);
- electrical equipment and household appliances;
- radio electronics;
Number of people in employment is 4.33 million (2019). Unemployment in Belarus: 8.8 thousand unemployed (2019); 4.2%.
Breakdown of employed population by type of economic activity (2019):
- production sector — 23,6%;
- agriculture, hunting, forestry industry — 9,0%;
- civil engineering — 6,2%;
- transportation and communication — 6,8%;
- retail; repairs of automobiles, household goods, and personal-use items — 14,6%;
- education — 10,4%;
- others — 26,6%.
In 2019 foreign investors poured $10 billion into the real sector of the Belarusian economy (except for banks). The main investors were partners from Russia, the United Kingdom, Cyprus, Poland, Austria, Ukraine, Lithuania, China, Germany, and the Netherlands.
Today’s Belarus is a country open to foreign investments and offers favorable business conditions.
The many benefits for investors include:
- strategic geographical location;
- direct access to ЕЕU markets (Belarus, Russia, Kazakhstan, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan);
- a well-developed infrastructure in Belarus: transport, logistics and communications;
- progressive investment legislation in Belarus;
- guarantees of investors rights and investment protection in Belarus;
- an attractive investment climate and favorable taxation policies;
- government support for investors in the form of guarantees, benefits and preferences;
- privatisation opportunities;
- 6 free economic zones;
- highly skilled workforce;
- good quality of life.
There are many reasons for such an increase in the number of international companies in Belarus. The main attractions are:
- Geographical location: Belarus, on the eastern border of Europe, is strategically well positioned as a major trading route between Europe and the CIS.
- Economic stability: In turbulent economic times, the Belarus economy has been less affected than those which rely on global markets. Market analysts predict a robust growth for the economy of Belarus.
- Favourable investment climate: Measures to encourage business include Free Economic Zones, the High Technology Park, the China-Belarus Industrial Park Great Stone, and special tax incentives for businesses operating in rural areas or small towns.
The law of the Republic of Belarus "On Investments" that came into force on 24 January 2014 provides for foreign investment protection and non-interference with private matters of investors. Besides, it grants profit allocation guarantees.
The rights of investors and investment protection are also guaranteed by a number of international agreements that Belarus is a signatory to.
Belarus has implemented 39 reforms to improve the business environment since 2006 when it started participating in the World Bank's Doing Business ranking.
- Highly skilled workforce: Almost 50% of workers in Belarus have a higher education.
- Industrially developed economy.
Free economic zones in Belarus
Each region of Belarus has a free economic zone:
- Brest (1996);
- Gomel-Raton (1998);
- Minsk (1998);
- Vitebsk (1999);
- Mogilev (2002);
- Grodnoinvest (2002)/
Businesses operating in these zones enjoy a range of benefits including:
- zero-rate tax on profit for a period of 5 years from the moment of declaring profit; afterwards the tax is calculated at the rate reduced by 50%;
- 50% discount on VAT on the products included in the list of import-substitution goods and sold in the territory of the Republic of Belarus;
- zero property tax on buildings located on the territory of the free economic zones.
The Great Stone Industrial Park is the largest joint project of Belarus and China that will span decades. The Park has a strategically unique location — it is situated in the geographical center of Europe, and viewed as a key element within the concept of new Silk Road Economic Belt.
The Great Stone Industrial Park is a territorial unit of Belarus with the status of special economic zone and preferential regime for doing business.
The Park offers easy access to international highways M1/E30 and M4, Minsk international airport (included into the territory of the Park), international railways and the capital of Belarus with its labor and scientific resources. The Park’s tax preferences, free customs regime with the EAEU countries, including Russia and Kazakhstan, give access to a market of about 183 million of customers.
The Great Stone Industrial Park is designed as a truly eco-friendly city for innovative companies with a high export potential, a special legal regime and preferential conditions for doing business.
With the total territory of about 112km2, the Park includes industrial and residential areas with the relevant infrastructure, innovation and financial centers, office premises, trade and entertainment facilities.
The Republic of Belarus implements a multi-vector foreign economic policy and actively participates in international integration processes.
Belarus is an export-oriented country with well-developed manufacturing sector and agriculture. 61 percent of products is exported.
Belarus maintains good trade relations with more than 200 countries of the world.
In 2020, foreign trade turnover of the Republic of Belarus reached USD 61.7 billion, which is 21 percent more than in 2016. Exports of goods amounted to USD 29 billion and grew by 23 percent in relation to 2016.
The commodity structure of Belarusian export includes more than 1000 commodity items. The most important export positions are oil and oil products, potash and nitrogen fertilizers, metal products, trucks and cars, tractors, tires, dairy and meat products, furniture.
The main imports are energy resources (oil and natural gas), raw materials, materials and components (metals and products from them, raw materials for chemical production, machine parts), technological equipment.
The main trading partner of Belarus is the Russian Federation, in 2020 it accounted for 45 percent of Belarusian exports and 50 percent of imports.
The European Union is the second largest trade partner, accounting for fifth part of foreign trade turnover. Key countries-importers of Belarusian products to the EU: Poland, Lithuania, Germany, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Latvia, Denmark, Belgium, Norway.
Despite the decrease in economic activity due to the pandemic Belarusian export increased to 11 EU countries in the amount of USD 168 million (including Denmark by USD 120 million, Romania — by USD 21 million, France — by USD 9 million, Austria — by USD 5 million), China — by USD 76 million as well as to 55 other countries for the total amount of USD 291 million.
The presence of Belarusian manufacturers in the regions of Asia, Africa, America and Oceania is gradually expanding. The work to expand access to the markets of “far arc” countries is carried out together with EAEU partners by concluding free trade agreements.
In 2020, Belarusian export of goods is carried out to the 9 new countries including the Bahamas, Burundi, Equatorial Guinea, Saint Lucia, Swaziland.
Compared to 2019 foreign trade balance in goods and services improved by USD 2.3 billion and accounted for USD 1.9 billion.
The service sector of Belarus has demonstrated resilience to global economic shocks. In 2020, export of Belarus services is 8.8 billion USD, which is 28% more than in 2016.
The main trade partners of Belarus in service sector are: Russia (35% of foreign trade turnover), EU countries (31%) and U.S. (9%).
Transport services account for 42% of total export, computer services — 29%. Other business and construction services also play a significant role.
Compared to 2019 the export of computer services increased by 19% or by USD 400 million, and over five years — by 2.6 times or by USD 1.6 billion.
Modern Belarus is a sovereign European state that pursues an independent and peaceful foreign policy, actively develops cooperation with strategic allies and foreign partners from all over the world. It is one of initiators and an active participant of regional integration structures and projects. The country significantly contributes to strengthening of international security and stability.
Currently Belarus has established diplomatic relations with 183 states of the world.
The network of Belarusian foreign missions is constantly modernized in order to adjust it to specific foreign policy and economy tasks and improve its effectiveness. As of January 1, 2021, there are 70 diplomatic missions: 58 embassies, 2 permanent missions, 9 consulates general and 1 consulate. If to take into account Ambassadors with concurrent accreditation, Belarus is represented in 114 states.
Priorities of the foreign policy:
Belarus is following common approaches to developing relations with all foreign partners and like any other state focuses its' foreign policy on the most important and promising directions.
Neighbouring countries are among them and the Russian Federation is topping the list as a state, with which strategic cooperation is built on the basis of a Treaty on the Creation of a Union State between the Republic of Belarus and the Russian Federation.
Belarus consistently promotes the idea of integration and holds an active and constructive position in the post-Soviet area unions: the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO).
An objectively important trade partner for Belarus is the European Union. The foundation of interaction with the Union and its member-states lies in trade, economic and investment cooperation.
Belarus has been consistently standing for normalization of the dialogue and development of relations with the United Stated of America.
Relations of comprehensive strategic partnership are developed with the People’s Republic of China. A new level of cooperation has been achieved with the countries of the so called “far arc” region of the Belarusian foreign policy (Asia, Africa and Latin America).
Another important direction of the Belarus’ foreign policy is multilateral diplomacy. Belarus, being a donor of the regional security, tends to contribute to the global problem-solving process, to countering contemporary challenges and threats, traditionally actively participates in the activity of the UN and other international organizations, generates approaches and initiatives, suggesting uniting agenda for all members of the international community, promoting the dialogue and overcoming dividing lines.
Source: Official Website of the Republic of Belarus, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Belarus