Parks of the highest achievements
Famous business sites of High-Tech Park and Chinese-Belarusian Industrial Park set the bar
By Alexander Velikhov
A journey of a thousand miles is said to begin with a single step, and the successful Belarusian ‘Silicon Valley’ High-Tech Park certainly seems to prove so. Meanwhile, interest is increasing daily in the new Chinese-Belarusian Industrial Park.
According to estimates by one of the world’s top analytical companies, Belarus is among the premier 30 states for offshore programming, having begun on this path in 2004. Belarus’ ‘Silicon Valley’ was originally dismissed by many as a fantasy but Decree #12 ‘On the High Technology Park’ has led the way (signed by President Alexander Lukashenko on September 22nd, 2005).
The goal of the project has been to create favourable conditions for the development of export-oriented programming and all spheres of new and high technologies. It aims to focus resources on scientific potential and, already, the HTP is one of the leading innovative IT clusters in Central and Eastern Europe. It is home to over 100 resident companies, employing over 13,000 people.
Belarusian scientists are taking part in a range of IT projects: from systematic analysis, consulting and selection of hardware to design and development of complex systems. More than half of the HTP companies manufacture their own software products and, last year, six were among the world’s top suppliers of IT services.
According to Valery Tsepkalo, the Director of the HTP’s Administration, affiliated enterprises of world famous companies may soon become residents: VeriFone (an American IT developer and one of the world’s largest manufacturers of payment terminals) and Yandex (a Russian IT company which owns the search engine of the same name and an Internet portal). Mr. Tsepkalo notes that interest from major foreign companies has increased dramatically of late. In 2012, an affiliated company of Russian Sberbank-Technology Company joined the HTP, alongside 13 other new residents. There are 118 organisations resident in all — half of which are joint and foreign ventures. Last year, the HTP created 2,500 jobs, employing around 15,000 specialists.
The Belarusian-Chinese Industrial Park occupies the same 8,000 hectares or more, located in the South-West Smolevichi District, north of Minsk National Airport. About $16bn has been invested in various projects. The territory is to receive a large complex, including industrial sites based around major electronics, machine building, chemistry and biomedicine enterprises, supported by residential accommodation, office space, logistics zones and financial centres.
The new industrial park is to host scientific research projects. Interest is being drawn towards the project with tax breaks (on profit and property ownership). Like those at the original HTP, employees will pay just 9 percent income tax. Belarusian industrial giants are showing interest, with Horizont planning new plants.
Of course, the Minsk Region (the largest in Belarus) is primarily interested; around 500,000 jobs are to be created in the area, explains the Chairman of the Minsk Regional Executive Committee, Boris Batura. “We’re aiming to start construction of the first sites at the industrial park by May-June. The state investment programme envisages funds for infrastructure (water, canalisation, heating, power supply and gasification) to support the expected $5bn+ of investments due to arrive in our region,” he emphasises.
The Chinese-Belarusian Industrial Park is to occupy around 80sq.km, offering unprecedented privileges and preferential conditions for residents, to attract investments: modern infrastructure, significant tax breaks over extended periods and one-stop services to speed up registration. Naturally, resident companies will also gain access to the Customs Union market, avoiding duties and quota restrictions.