Steady course along the Silk Road
Top managers of Great Stone on the achievements of the park in 2022
China-Belarus Great Stone Industrial Park summed up the first results of its work for 2022. The shaped plans have been implemented despite unfavourable external factors. The departed Water Tiger was favourable to the ‘pearl of the Silk Road’ in attracting new residents. Thus, the number of project participants reached 100 — 19 companies were registered during the year. The volume of announced investments increased to $1.32 billion. Head of the China-Belarus Great Stone Industrial Park Aleksandr Yaroshenko and First Deputy Director General of SZAO Industrial Park Development Company Kirill Koroteyev spoke in more detail about the results of the year, as well as the prospects for 2023.
Export volume — more than $100 million— According to preliminary estimates, Great Stone performed quite well in 2022 despite the unpredictability of external factors. What areas and clusters have received additional development?
A.Y.: Indeed, the plans for 2022 have been implemented. The number of park residents has reached 100 companies. The volume of announced investments now stands at $1.32 billion.
Positive dynamics is also observed in some indicators of the activity of Great Stone. We expect that exports in monetary terms will amount to more than $100 million by the end of 2022. The number of employees of the park residents will exceed 2,000 people, and the average salary will be about Br3,000, which is almost twice the national average.In 2022, our presentation activities also became more active compared to 2021. We represented the park in Belarus and abroad, participated in online conferences and meetings — 70 events in total. We also hosted over 130 delegations at the Great Stone.
If we talk about the development of existing areas, then this is e-commerce. The National Pavilion of Belarus was launched at large Chinese sites with the participation of the Industrial Park Development Company and one of our residents last year. The cluster of enterprises producing medical products continues to expand.
20 more residents in 2023— What expectations does Great Stone have for the current year? Will the number of Chinese residents grow? Do you plan to work even more closely with China in terms of attracting residents?
A.Y.: Of course, we will work to attract new project participants to the park. We expect 20 new companies to join Great Stone this year. Now we are co-operating with several Chinese companies operating in the field of integrated logistics, an enterprise that produces high-tech aseptic packaging. In addition, agreements of intent were signed on the entry into the park of two companies working in the field of storage and processing of large amounts of data at the end of the year. The day before, China eased COVID-19 restrictions, which is likely to contribute to the growth of the dynamics of our contacts.
Chinese residents are building large facilities in the park. We expect that they will be put into operation this year. This is the first stage of the Fakel (Torch) park of the Chinese corporation Sinomach on Minsky Avenue, where research and development will be carried out. The construction of a multifunctional complex with a hotel, which is being built on Pekinsky Avenue with the participation of our resident China Merchants SinChen, will also be completed.
Park automation and the second stage— Tell us about the work done in the construction of infrastructure. What are your plans for 2023?
K.K.: In 2022, we have completely built the infrastructure for the first phase of the development of the park of 8.5 square kilometres. We also completed the execution of contracts with our general contractor. At the moment, we are in the stage of repayment of loans that were taken for these purposes.
Now we will pay attention to automation, ecologisation and smartisation of the park and the created infrastructure. This year, our work will be aimed at equipping the territories of the first stage.
As for plans, we expect the construction of the second stage to begin along with the Beltamozhservice and Eurasian Railway Gateway terminals. We want to synchronise the construction of the infrastructure of the second stage with the start of the construction of terminals.
Industrial real estate is in demand— Last year was finalised with a big deal. We are talking about renting a production building. How attractive is such real estate for investors today?
K.K.: Indeed, the industrial park ended the year 2022 with the signing of a lease agreement for a universal production building with a resident of IPD Group. The leased area was 5,000 square metres. This arrangement was one of the largest in the country’s industrial real estate market last year.
For the park, the creation of industrial real estate has become one of the main areas due to the sanctions policy of Western countries. There are high risks for investments in the construction of ‘greenfield’ production facilities in our region. But when there is already a ready-made site for the production building, then investors can implement their projects even at high risks. The investor shares the risks with us by investing in the premises. This direction has become in demand since mid-2022, and many import substitution projects were interested in renting such areas in one way or another. This process is gaining momentum. Today, we have built ten buildings — this is more than 90,000 square metres. About 80 percent of them have already been contracted. Belarusian high-tech business is also interested. Russian business is now eyeing it. In 2023, we will build at least 10,000 square metres of such areas.
Platform for growth— How did the National Pavilion perform on Chinese marketplaces in 2022?
K.K.: In 2022, SZAO Industrial Park Development Company became the operator of the National Pavilion of Belarus abroad. In 5.5 months of operation, the pavilion attracted 700,000 subscribers on the Douyin platform. However, this number keeps growing. On this platform, people easily get acquainted with our country. I am very pleased that the pavilion is of great interest. This is an opportunity to tell Chinese citizens as much as possible about our culture. At the same time, the total number of orders for Douyin amounted to 160,000 by the end of the year — there were more than 125,000 buyers. The total sales on the JingDong and Douyin platforms reached $1.3 million.
About 40 items were sold on the two platforms. There are plans to expand the range. I hope that logistics will improve in February and we will grow significantly.
At the same time, I would like to draw your attention to the fact that we are still accumulating experience. We did not know all the features of doing business in China from the very beginning. Since the start of the work of the pavilion, serious progress has been made. At the end of December, we received the right to expand our presence on other platforms. Soon, the National Pavilion will operate on such platforms as Weibo (microblogging service), WeChat public (a blogging environment of a popular messenger), Kuaishou (social network for sharing short videos), Xiaohongshu (social network with e-commerce functionality), Bilibili (video blogging portal), Tmall Taobao (a trading platform owned by Alibaba Group) and Zhaoshang Daojiahui (a trading platform of China Merchants Group).
By Ilya Kryzhevich