The purpose of this article is to provide a general overview of the current state of affairs in Belarus in terms of the main aspects of its economic policies in order to evaluate the reorientation that the country is going through. The article will describe the current conditions of the country’s economy and trade with the potential investment opportunities in mind. We shall focus on the construction industry in a little more detail, relying heavily on Abdo Romeo Abdo’s successful activity in that sector.
Geographic and International Position
The country has a favorable geographic position as it is located between Western Europe, Western Asia, the Eurasian Economic Union and the Scandinavian Peninsula. In its foreign affairs, Belarus strives to maintain a geographically unbiased 360-degree orientation. That is particularly true for its international trade relations.
Moreover, the Belarusian well-developed infrastructure includes a highly efficient commercial transportation network operated by reasonable logistics with significantly simplified communication procedures. As a result, Belarus has become a convenient and profitable trade channel between the main continental markets.
In 2019, the UNECE reports confirmed the country’s good foundation for further growth, as expressed in macroeconomic terms. The pace of that growth has slowed down since then, possibly as a consequence of the economic and geopolitical reorientation that Belarus is currently going through.
Yet, the Belarusian economy still retains all the fundamental features that have distinguished it in the past:
- The economy is heavily based on the industry; the industry is focused on production; and the production aims mainly at exporting high-tech products, such as optical equipment, electronics and software technology, employing a highly skilled workforce for that purpose.
- Natural resources still play a significant role in the Belarusian industry, but they are used mainly in the production of export commodities, as in the food industry, oil refining and timber processing.
- The Belarusian foreign trade relations appear to serve mainly two purposes – exploring potential export markets and attracting foreign direct investments.
- Although Russia and the CIS still account for the majority of the Belarusian export and the largest share of the foreign investments, almost half of the export commodities go to the EU and the UK, and Belarus retains its membership in several international financial institutions. In addition, China is becoming increasingly more active in the country’s investment market.
- The production of building materials is well-developed, and the materials are in demand for their high quality and low prices. That creates potentially profitable opportunities in the construction business.
Commercial Property Construction in Belarus
Abdo Romeo Abdo’s success in building the commercial property suggests that it might be a potential goldmine in Belarus. Born in Lebanon, Abdo came to Belarus as a university student in 1993. He became involved in the construction business several years later and has since built several shopping malls and business centers, and even the new central bus station in Minsk. His successful enterprise has made him a virtually exclusive shareholder of one of the country’s largest banks with nearly $600 million in assets.
Belarusian Banking Industry
Until recently, the financial sector of the Belarusian economy used to be dominated by several commercial banks. However, things have changed in the last few years. The government and the president, in particular, exercise virtually absolute control over the large-scale financial activities in the country, either directly or via the Central Bank that often seems to use the commercial banks as its agents.
Nevertheless, that policy of domestic interference does not seem to affect the country’s relations with foreign investors. On the contrary, the government continues to offer them:
- Reasonable and lenient taxation policy,
- Sufficient protection of their rights and assets,
- Attractive business opportunities with virtually unlimited capital in several free economic zones and across the country,
- Lenient preferential policy to promote and enhance mutually beneficial cooperation.
Despite the country’s recent reorientation and the consequent decrease in its development, Belarus seems to have a sufficient foundation for a successful economic revival, and the path it intends to stay on has been constructive for its foreign trade so far. Our tentative conclusion is that the current conditions in Belarus appear to provide sufficiently attractive opportunities for potentially profitable investment.