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Foreign direct investment (FDI) in Belarus

FDI in Figures

On February 24, 2022, Russia initiated a military conflict on the Ukrainian territory, dragging in Belarus as its ally facilitating the invasion of Ukraine, which profoundly upsets the political  and economic context in these countries and will have substantial ramifications on the investment climate. For the ongoing updates on the developments of Russia-Ukraine conflict please consult the dedicated pages on BBC News.

Foreign capital inflows to Belarus increased sharply in the first half of the 2000s. However, they have declined since 2008, due to the global economic crisis and the difficulties of the Russian economy. According to UNCTAD's  World Investment Report 2021, FDI inflows to Belarus grew by 8% to USD 1.4 billion, making the country the fifth-largest recipient in 2020. The total stock of FDI was estimated at USD 14.5 billion. The large inflows recorded in the first quarter of the year were followed by three quarters of almost no net FDI, mostly as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic and of the social unrest following the presidential elections. In addition to investments in the automotive sector (the Delkom40 rubber production project (Poland)), furniture production (Polipol Mebel Bel (Germany)), IT (EffectiveSoft (USA)) and logistics (China Merchants Group), the country also attracted a new renewable energy project (Green Genius (Lithuania)). Data from the national statistical office Belstat show that the main investing countries are the Russian Federation (41.4%), Cyprus (9.4%), Austria (7.4%), and the UK (6.8%). The sectors attracting more investments are wholesale and retail trade, transportation and storage, manufacturing and IT. In the first nine months of 2021, FDI inflows totalled USD 4.8 billion, with wholesale and retail trade taking the lion’s share ahead of the industrial sector (38.4% and 21.7%, respectively - Belstat).

The country is part of the customs union with Russia, Kazakhstan, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan, which is the largest in the region by volume and largely related to hydrocarbons, with major oil pipeline projects, pipelines and associated services. Belarus has six Special Economic Zones, access to developed energy, great openness to neighbouring countries and a skilled workforce. It ranked 49th (out of 190) of the latest World Bank's Doing Business report, losing twelve positions in just one year. Progress can be made in terms of access to credit, the resolution of credit insolvency situations and paying taxes. The National Agency for Investments and Privatization outlined the country’s 2035 FDI long-term strategy, which will focus on the following sectors: high-tech and science-intensive production industries, logistics, transport infrastructure, the finance sector, the sector of housing and utilities. Belarus’ privatization program has been in practice extremely limited in recent years, and The State Property Committee announced in 2021 that it had no plans for any mass privatization in the country. Finally, it has to be noted that though foreign and domestic investors formally enjoy the same rights, in practice the national government may impose limits on a case-by-case basis.

 
Foreign Direct Investment 201920202021
FDI Inward Flow (million USD) 1,2931,3971,233
FDI Stock (million USD) 14,41714,08515,165
Number of Greenfield Investments* 15179
Value of Greenfield Investments (million USD) 375680343

Source: UNCTAD, Latest available data

Note: * Greenfield Investments are a form of Foreign Direct Investment where a parent company starts a new venture in a foreign country by constructing new operational facilities from the ground up.

 
Country Comparison For the Protection of Investors Belarus Eastern Europe & Central Asia United States Germany
Index of Transaction Transparency* 6.0 7.5 7.0 5.0
Index of Manager’s Responsibility** 2.0 5.0 9.0 5.0
Index of Shareholders’ Power*** 8.0 6.8 9.0 5.0

Source: Doing Business, Latest available data

Note: *The Greater the Index, the More Transparent the Conditions of Transactions. **The Greater the Index, the More the Manager is Personally Responsible. *** The Greater the Index, the Easier it Will Be For Shareholders to Take Legal Action.

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What to consider if you invest in Belarus

Strong Points

Belarus' main strong points include:

  • An advantageous geographical position, the country is a point of entry into Europe and the CIS countries
  • A satisfactory fiscal balance and public debt at a correct level
  • A number of measures favourable to direct foreign investments
  • Competitive taxation system and investment conditions
  • Political and economic stability
  • A qualified and low-cost labour force
  • Well developed transport infrastructure
Weak Points

The country's weak points include:

  • A strong dependence on the Russian economy (especially with regard to its energy imports)
  • A complicated business environment due to an economic policy based on a Soviet philosophy (and strong interventionism of the State)
  • Slow and complicated reforms to put in place
  • High risk of corruption    
  • Heavy administrative procedures
  • Isolation on the international scene, partly because of sanctions by the United States and the European Union
  • High inflation (5.1% in 2020 - IMF)
  • Great external debt  (40.7 billion in 2019 - World Bank, latest data available)
Government Measures to Motivate or Restrict FDI
For a number of years, the government has been seeking to enhance the country's appeal at a global level. It has implemented a number of measures to ensure investor protection, has created six duty-free zones in the country and set up Investment Advisory Offices as well as the National Agency of Investment and Privatization.
Belarus’ 2035 FDI long-term strategy was outlined by the National Agency of Investment and Privatization and will focus on the following sectors: high-tech and science-intensive production industries, logistics, transport infrastructure, the finance sector, the sector of housing and utilities.

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Latest Update: July 2022