The first Belarusian Investment Forum in London became the event, which brought together potential national and foreign partners and became
the event of the year.
Three private operators compete on Belarusian mobile communication market. They invested billions of US Dollars into this sphere. For example, recently the block of shares of “BeST” company, founded by the state, was sold to a foreign company for 600 million US Dollars. The result of keen competitive struggle for clients is obvious. Mobile communication services’ tariffs in Belarus today are one of the most attractive in Europe. You can talk over a wireless telephone practically in any corner of the country. Communication quality gladdens. For example, during the first Belarusian Investment Forum, which has recently been held in Church House palace in the center of London, many members of Belarusian delegation used the services of “their own” operator, a foreign operator Velcom, and were satisfied with the level of service. Undoubtedly, mobile communication in Belarus will be attractive for foreign investments.
The same can be told about many other spheres of Belarusian economy. Belarus represented more than 100 investment projects in the sphere of mechanic engineering, chemistry and petrochemistry, tourism, agriculture, power economy, and construction at the Investment Forum in London. Is it much? Let us bring such facts for comparison: Belarus chose an investment way of development, and in the near future it plans to build more than 100 new enterprises and 400 technologically progressive manufactures. Thus, practically the whole country was more or less represented in London through a prism of investments and renewal. It is no coincidence that London was chosen the place for such a presentation, because London is a financial center of the whole western hemisphere. Besides, Belarus has dynamically developed economic relations with this country.
Today Belarus is not the Terra incognita for the foreign capital. More than 4 thousand foreign or joint enterprises work here. In 2007, foreign investments reached 5.4 billion US Dollars. It is three times as much as in 2005. What can explain such a quick growth of interest of foreign business people to Belarus? The Chief Executive Officer of SB Telecom Ltd regarding the foreign enterprise “Velcom” Helmut Doose has partially answered this question during his speech at London forum.
“We note a high rate of growth of economy and profit in Belarus, its high sensibility to technical innovations, social stability, and a high level of the population education and qualification of workers. Our company reached significant success over the years of work on Belarusian market, though we face some difficulties,” he announced. “However, we wouldn’t like to stop as we see new market segments and perspectives, which we could realize. We confirm our intention to the high investment level in Belarus by 2009, but we will have to pay peculiar attention to the provision of their maximum efficiency. In particular, we plan to cooperate with our partners and install retransmitters on common towers. This will significantly decrease our expenses.
This is rather a typical opinion of businessmen working in Belarus, including the sphere of telecommunications. They note high revenue and expect the introduction of new technologies. This will allow the market growing. Of course, there are problems. Foreign investors wait impatiently for the fixed-line telephony demonopolization. The preparation to this process is now being carried out. In whole, Belarus plans to become one of 30 states with the most attractive investment climate. For this reason more than 30 legislative acts were accepted last year, directed to liberalization in the sphere of economy. Besides, benefits were accepted for business, investing into the development of the services industry in small and medium towns, countryside, and free economic areas.
“The government requires providing more attractive conditions for investors from local authorities, the National Investment Agency of Belarus comments the situation. In particular, tax burden on business is annually decreased. Today we try to develop an individual approach to each potential investor. We also plan to use such rare in Belarus investment instruments as concession, project, and venture financing wider.”
The guests of Belarusian Investment Forum in London were interested in new approaches of the Belarusian Government. Tens of negotiations were held. Their continuation is expected in Minsk, where the heads of at least three world famous companies shall arrive in the near future. Many of them have already announced their intention to realize ambitious plans in Belarus. For example, Russian company Itera, LLC plans to invest 12 billion US Dollars into the construction of the so-called Minsk City near the center of the Belarusian capital. This unique architectural project will unite a business center and zones of comfortable living.
One more important event is the opening of Belarusian Oil Company of the representative office in London. Belarus doesn’t possess large-scale oil deposits, but it is the biggest center of its processing and oil-products’ exporter. By the way, investment projects on further modernization of two oil refineries, situated in the country, were represented at the forum. Their products are being widely realized in Europe. The opening of the representative office of the oil company will help to align supply of petrol and diesel fuel directly to the networks of petrol stations, and not only in England.
Belarus is in search of new cooperation variants. The first agrarian investment forum has been recently held here. The International Financial Corporation has held a business-seminar. Besides, in 2009 it is planned to carry out Belarusian Investment Forum in one of the rich Arabic states, and then in other world regions. Experts note that in the near future foreign investments to Belarus will increase to 2–4 billion US Dollars. In the distant future this figure can increase several times.