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Eurasian Business Briefing Belarus

EEU doomed, predicts Bzhezinsky

Zbignev BzhezinskyThe Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) will be dead and buried within in ten years or as soon as Russia accepts that it is a a European state, Zbignev Bzhezinsky predicted this week. In an interview with the daily Gazeta, (more…)

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Chinese real estate investment hits record high – with more to come

Strategic Hotels ChicagoChinese investment in overseas commercial and residential property investment hit a record high of US $33bn in 2016, a year-on-year increase of nearly 53% percent year-on-year, according to the latest data compiled by Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL), with the highlights of last year’s activity being (more…)

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Chinese consortium to build Bangladeshi coal-fired power plant

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh HasinaBangladeshi coal-fired power plant: Bangladesh yesterday signed an engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract with a consortium of two Chinese firms for the installation of a $1.56bn coal-fired power plant in the port of Payra, some 240km south of the capital Dhaka. The contract was signed between (more…)

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EU lifts Belarus sanctions

Alexander Lukashenko inauguration

‘Europe’s last dictator’

Belarus sanctions: At a meeting of its foreign ministers in Brussels on Monday, the EU voted to unfreeze Belarussan assets and to lift travel bans imposed on 170 of its citizens – including President Alexander Lukashenko – that it began imposing in 2004 in response to a series of flawed elections that returned Lukashenko and his parliamentary supporters to power in successive landslides. Sanctions were also (more…)

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Gazprom to invest $2.5bn in Belarus gas transport system

Putin and Lukashenko in Minsk 25-02-16Gazprom is planning to invest up to $2.5bn in the Belarus gas transport system by the end of the decade and a further $1.1bn on expanding its fellow EEU member state’s gas storage facilities, the Kremlin’s press office disclosed as President Putin set off to Minsk yesterday. Gazprom already (more…)

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EU relaxes sanctions against Belarus

President of Belarus Aleksandr Lukashenko

President of Belarus Aleksandr Lukashenko

Mark III Photonics : Shutterstock.com

The European Union has suspended the bulk of its sanctions against Belarus, including an asset freeze and a travel ban on longtime President Alexander Lukashenko, in the bloc’s biggest push yet to improve ties with the Minsk government. The decision, which was widely anticipated, follows October’s elections in Belarus and recent decisions by authorities to release a number of political prisoners. The move builds on hopes that Mr. Lukashenko is seeking closer ties with Western countries to balance the leverage Russia has in Minsk.
In total, the EU will suspend sanctions on 170 people and three entities for four months. The decision will take effect Saturday. If the sanctions aren’t reimposed at the end of the period by all 28 member states, the sanctions will be completely dropped.
The EU is keeping in effect its arms ban and its prohibition on the export of equipment for internal repression to Belarus. It is also maintaining the asset freeze and travel ban against four people the

(more…)

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Lukashenko victory set to help rapprochement with EU

Lukashenko and sonLukashenko victory: Belarus’s hard-line leader Alexander Lukashenko – “Europe’s last dictator” – yesterday won a fifth presidential term with a landslide victory that could see an easing of relations with the west and raises questions about his ties to Vladimir Putin’s Russia.
Five years ago, an electoral victory on a similar scale led to mass protests and the imprisonment of leading opposition figures, but Western support for his 20-year-old regime has grown since he criticised Russia’s annexation of the Crimea peninsula in Ukraine last year and then hosted peace talks in Minsk. His pardoning of six opposition leaders in August is a further indication that he is seeking to improve his image in the west, observers say.
Relations with Moscow, meanwhile, have been showing signs of strain. Lukashenko recently turned down Vladimir Putin’s offer to build an airbase in Belarus as he appeared to bow to public opposition on the eve of the election.
But the lack of a protest movement and government crackdown means that Western countries are now almost certain to lift sanctions on Belarus and seek to boost economic ties, with diplomatic sources indicating that the EU would lift sanctions on both Belarus and Lukashenko himself for four months after Sunday’s vote, barring any last-minute crackdown

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Russia lends Belarus $760m as economy shrinks by 2%

Minsk Government buildingRussia lends Belarus: Moscow this week extended a 10-year $760m loan to Minsk as Belarus tries to meet $4bn in debt repayments in the middle of an economic slump. While Russia has been a traditional source of financial aid for Belarus, (more…)

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Ukraine and Belarus switch from dollar to hryvnia for bilateral trade

Poroshenko and LukashenkoUkraine and Belarus have agreed to use the hryvnia instead of the dollar for bilateral trade transactions, with Kiev also asking for permission to use Belarus to act as transit country for gas supplies from Lithuania. “We approached the National Bank of Ukraine with a number of suggestions that would help streamline and revitalize trade between our two countries,” said  Deputy Prime Minister Gennady Zubko. 

 

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IMF Report 2014 – Belarus

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IMF Report 2014 – Belarus

After two crises in four years, growth has slowed amid bouts of external pressures. Following average annual GDP growth of 8% during 1997–2008, in the aftermath of the 2008 and 2011 crises growth reached only 1.7%in 2012 and 0.9% in 2013 reflecting structural limitations of the economy and a weak external environment. Repeated attempts by the authorities to boost activity through domestic policy stimulus, while delaying much-needed structural reform, have resulted in rapidly rising external imbalances and recurrent bouts of exchange rate pressures, which have in turn given rise to frequent, though modest, policy shifts in short-term efforts to maintain stability.

High external financing needs and dwindling buffers leave Belarus highly dependent on external financial support. Without more decisive policy changes to reduce imbalances, and with another year of large external payments ahead, Belarus is highly dependent on external support. Russia has promised $2 billion in loans, but modalities for this support are still being worked out and at the time of this report only $450 million has been disbursed. Meanwhile, the decision on the final $440 million tranche under the program with the Anti Crisis Fund (ACF) of the Eurasian Community has been suspended until the second half of 2014 because of noncompliance with program conditionality. Lack of progress on policies also continues to prevent discussions on a Fund program. 

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Doing Business in Belarus 2015 – World Bank

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Doing Business in Belarus 2015 – World Bank
Starting a business In Belarus requires 5 procedures, takes 9 days, and costs 0.8% of income per capita. (Most indicator sets refer to a case scenario in the largest business city of an economy, except for 11 economies for which the data are a population-weighted average of the 2 largest business cities.)

Introduction
The business environment
Starting a business
Dealing with construction permit
Getting electricity
Registering property
Getting credit
Protecting minority investors
Taxes
Trading across borders
Enforcing contracts 
Resolving insolvency
Distance to frontier and ease of doing business ranking

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Belarus pushes for WTO membership

WTOWith Kazakhstan on the verge of full WTO membership,  Belarus is confident that it could also accede within the next 12 months, its Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Guryanov said today – if its fellow EEU member (and, of course, Russia) throw their weight behind its application
“If everything goes right, and politicians do not interfere, we will be able to complete all technical work in one year, and then much will depend on political movements and reactions of WTO key members,” Guryanov said. 
“We received a signal from WTO secretariat that they want to focus more closely on Belarus. Everyone understands that it is not exactly right to keep one member country of such a large bloc as the EEU out of the organisation.”
Belarus first applied for membership back in 1993.

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Minsk brings forward date of Belarus presidential elections

Belarus CEC Chair Lidia Yermoshina

Belarus CEC Chair Lidia Yermoshina

Snipview

The parliament in Minsk yesterday set the date for the next Belarus presidential election at October 11, about a month earlier than originally planned. The decision has intensified a debate among opposition parties (more…)

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Russian economic crisis has cost Belarus $3bn, Lukashenko claims

President of Belarus Aleksandr Lukashenko

President of Belarus Aleksandr Lukashenko

Mark III Photonics : Shutterstock.com

Belarus has lost nearly $3bn due to the Russian economic crisis that followed Moscow’s annexation of Crimea last year, Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko said today, in the latest indication that maintaining close political and economic ties with Russia was taking a toll on his nation. The losses were due, he said, to the collapse of Russian markets triggered by Western sanctions imposed on Moscow and (more…)

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Russia considers reducing Belarus oil supply as Minsk redirects petroleum exports

Belarus oil refineryBelarus oil supply: In yet another indication that all is not necessarily plain sailing within the newly formed Eurasian Economic Union, Russia’s Energy Ministry Alexander Novak last week signalled that Russia was considering reducing crude oil supplies to Belarus after the volume of petroleum that its close ally is contracted to send back from its oil refineries fell by 300% year-on-year in the first quarter of 2015.
Minsk is justifying the drop in exports on the grounds that the devaluation of the rouble means that the price it can command for petroleum in Russia is now lower than the export parity price and that it is now commercially more logical for it to sell its petroleum elsewhere. Officials are citing a protocol that was signed last May which allows them to do just that. 
For its part Russia, claims that Belarus is reneging on its commitments. “[We] have the right to cut volumes of oil stock supplied to the Republic of Belarus via pipelines in [any given] quarter if there is a shortfall in the delivery of motor fuel of more than 10% of the agreed delivery schedule” pursuant to the agreements,” Novak’s Ministry commented. A decision is to be taken by the end of June. Russia’s enforcement of the law will be considered in June 2015 when setting the schedule of oil delivery via cross-country pipelines outside Russia for the third quarter of 2015, the Ministry said.

 
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Belarus ready to invest in Kyrgyz agriculture, Kobyakov tells Sariyev

Kyrgyz PM Temir Sariyev and Belarus PM Andrei Kobyakov in Burabay 28-05-2015

Kyrgyz PM Temir Sariyev and Belarus PM Andrei Kobyakov

Belarus.by

Belarus is ready to invest in Kyrgyz agriculture rather than just import its raw materials, Prime Minster Andrei Kobyakov told his newly appointed counterpart Temir Sariyev during a break-out meeting of the CIS (more…)

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Russia unwilling to restructure Ukrainian debt

Russian Deputy Finance Minister Sergei Storchak

Russian Deputy Finance Minister Sergei Storchak

Reuters

Ukrainian debt: Moscow is not prepared to restructure the terms of its $3bn loan to Ukraine which is due for repayment in December, Russian Deputy Finance Minister Sergei Storchak told an EBRD business forum in Tbilisi last week. Ukraine (more…)

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Belarus trade with Russia down $900m as Minsk turns to new export markets

Belarus Prime Minister Andrei Kobyakov

Belarus Prime Minister Andrei Kobyakov

AP Photo/Sergei Grits

Belarus trade with Russia dropped by $900m in the first two months of 2015 as the economic crisis takes its toll, Prime Minister Andrei Kobyakov said today, galvanising the country to look to ease its dependence on its fellow EEU founding member. “The government has recently identified 56 (more…)

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Belarusneft to develop oil fields in Ecuador

Oil pipelines in Ecuador's interior (Yasuni Biosphere, Orellana province)Belarus’s state-run oil company Belarusneft has signed an agreement that will see it investing over $500m in Ecuador’s oil sector. Its investment and activity will be focussed on the fields in Pastaza province, deep in Ecuador’s jungled interior. The fields will probably be developed in conjunction with Chile’s Empresa Nacional del Petróleo (ENAP).

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Russia accuses Belarus of helping West beat Russian food import ban

Russian Belarus customs borderRussia accuses Belarus: Russia’s food watchdog Rosselkhoznadzor is claiming that Belarussian companies are helping EU and Western food exporters beat Russia’s food import embargo by passing off banned goods as their own. In some instances, they are claiming that seafood products such as mussels and oysters originated in landlocked Belarus. Citing data (more…)

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