Difficulties may arise but business is worthwhile
By Andrey Sviridov
American economist Peter Young — a professor at San Francisco University — has told the First National TV Channel, “You are situated at the centre, with millions of consumers around you; it is an advantageous location for factories and I’d recommend Belarus as a logistics centre for Europe. It’s essential to transport more goods from the European Union to and from Russia via Belarus. The advantageous location of Belarus between the EU and Russia is perfect for setting up industrial facilities. The country’s joining of a single customs zone with Russia and Kazakhstan is another attraction. The whole world is on the way to integration. However, it’s necessary to move further — to a free trade zone.”
Mr. Young assumes that Belarus may face challenges in changing its economic standards and that it may take a few years for efforts to yield results. “Investors need to feel confident of the value of the Rouble. We see the Government is dealing with this matter right now,” he notes. Energy prices are also of concern; according to Mr. Young, these should be strictly regulated, as keeping them below global prices will make industry more attractive.
One of Belarus’ major advantages is its high level of education, with the American specialist mentioning those working in the spheres of production and IT. “Your tractors are known even in our country, offering value for money,” he asserts. Mr. Young believes that Belarus can successfully invest in its heavy industry. He hails from Silicon Valley in Northern California, so well understands the personnel potential of Belarus. “Over the past three years, I’ve submitted more orders to Belarusian specialists than to anyone else, as your companies employ the best specialists and project managers. It’s greatly advantageous to produce programmes in your country.”
Mr. Young also spoke about privatisation in Belarus. “I’m not sure that Russia is the best example for you. China — with its planned privatisation — may be a better option,” he stresses, adding that it’s better to keep a 50:50 ratio regarding privatisation, with clear rules delineated. “Private ownership is always more efficient than state ownership,” Mr. Young emphasises.