Belarus US Business Relations Thrive as Conditions Improve

emerging europe belarus outlook ebrd

Read the Outlook on Belarus special report

.

David Baron

About David Baron

David Baron is the Washington, D.C. based Chairman of the Belarus-U.S. Business Council and a shareholder in the International Law Firm of Greenberg Traurig. For more than 12 years David has worked with and represented a number of the largest Belarusian State-owned enterprises in their dealings with the United States and represented other entities in their dealings with Belarus. David regularly counsels both US and non-US clients regarding business and investment matters as well as all aspects of international trade regulations, including economic sanctions policies. He is also an adjunct professor at American University's Washington College of Law where he teaches advanced seminars on international law and international dispute resolution involving sovereigns.

Political and economic relations between the United States and Belarus are enjoying a resurgence. Ten years ago political relations between our two countries were strained and economic relations were not what they might have been. Ten years on, American companies are now doing business in and with Belarus, at record levels and, hopefully, this is just the beginning.

Ten years ago, Belarus decided to invest in its people. With its lack of many natural resources, Belarus turned instead its greatest asset.  It turns out that if you give a smart and motivated student in Belarus a computer and a chair, you can create a world-class computer programmer. Today, the more than 40,000 software developers in Belarus have helped Belarus to export more than $815 million in IT services, an increase of 18.5 per cent from the year before. Nearly half of those services were provided at the request, and for the benefit, of US companies. This is pretty impressive for a country of only 9.5 million people.

Belarusians also love American brands. If you were to visit Belarus today, you could have breakfast at McDonalds, lunch at Burger King and dinner at TGI Fridays. You could visit a plant where Chevrolet Tahoes and Cadillac Escalades are assembled.  You can wash it all down with a Coke and smile – it’s bottled locally, right there in Belarus. The Marriott now has two branded hotels in Minsk and soon the Hilton chain will have two as well. 

So far, most of the above-mentioned American brands were introduced to Belarus by third country investors who licensed those brands for use in Belarus, but that is changing. Today, American investors are increasingly making direct investments in Belarus; everything from research and development centres to manufacturing facilities to the construction of shopping malls.

Belarus is located in the heart of Europe between Russia and the European Union and is a member of the newly created Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) together with Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Armenia. This means that because it is built in Belarus, it can be sold duty-free within the EEU.  If you want to put Belarus’ place in the EEU in context it is helpful to make an analogy to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Making an investment in Belarus today with its easy proximity to the European Union is the same as making an investment in Canada during the early days of NAFTA, but with the Mexican labour costs.

As American interest and investment in Belarus grows, the Belarus US Business Council is working with the Belarusian government to increase and improve the conditions for foreign investment. In 2014, we celebrated the first ever Belarus Investment Forum in the commercial capital of the United States, New York City, and that is only the beginning.

American companies and investors are increasingly looking towards Belarus for its talented people and its geographical opportunities. The investment incentives that are provided by the Government are also helping to stimulate and increase these types of new and continued investment which is also creating opportunities for newly created industries and projects to grow and thrive.

Increased opportunities to obtain international financing and capital from international financial institutions will also have a multiplying effect on new and existing investment projects in Belarus.  We have made a good beginning and we have built a good foundation for new investment opportunities, such as these. American, and other, investors should seek to be part of this new resurgence, in US-Belarus economic relations.

_______________

The views expressed in this opinion editorial are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Emerging Europe’s editorial policy.

RELATED ARTICLES

The UK and Belarus: A Partnership to Introduce the Real Belarus to Europe

Belarus is Bringing Opportunities for European Companies

Great Stone

Belarus Is One of the Top Outsourcing Destinations of 2016

Belarus: Navigating the geopolitical storm

Will European Business and Institutions Bolster the New Trends That Have Appeared in Belarus?

The Eurasian Economic Union Fails to Bring Belarus Closer to Big Brother

The Next Four Months Crucial For the Belarus-EU Relations

Belarusian Tech Companies Lead a Global Technological Advance in Outsourcing and Product Development

The Shopping Experience Is Set To Go Global in Belarus from 2017 Onwards

UK Shores: the New Frontier, a View on a Series of Fortunate Events

Bringing Belarus’ Cultural Past to Life for Belarusians and the World

Lukashenka seeks to avoid commitment to Russia’s geostrategic goals

Belarus is the most creative EEU country

Belarusian Economy on a Diet to Change its Financial Outlook

The EU Is Encouraging Belarus to Join the World Trade Organisation

Belarus Is Making the First Steps onto the International Finance Floor

Germany and Belarus: Thinking Globally Acting Locally

Will the New Five-day Visa-free Regime Encourage More Visitors to Belarus?

Belarus 2020: Turning the Vicious Circle Into an Upward Spiral

The EU’s Benign Neglect Of Eastern Europe

The Reality Is More Interesting Than the Misconceptions

Invest in Belarus: looking beyond politics to the future

Young Well-Paid IT Specialists Are Making Belarus Known Internationally

World Bank’s Doing Business Report 2016 Resume For Emerging Europe

Foreign Investors: Belarus Offers Opportunities But Further Improvements Are Needed

Belarus and the EBRD:
Working to Expand the Country’s Strengths and Success

Smart, reliable and promising

Belarus Is Where the New Silk Road Heads For Europe

Encouraging SME’s Development Will Help Build Belarusian Economy

Brexit Is a Great Opportunity to Attract Foreign Investors to Belarus

Belarus-Turkey Investment Forum to increase investment and trade between the two countries

The essence of the Customs Union is protectionism

Breaking trade barriers with CIS has never been easier

Veni, Vidi, Vici, Or My Personal Experience of Doing Business in Belarus

Emerging Europe and the EBRD host the Outlook on Belarus conference in London

‘No’ To a Monetary Union With Russia

HTP: Belarus’ Engineers Are Leading a Cool Revolution

EBRD Emerging Europe Outlook on Belarus 2016

The Proof of a Country’s Readiness to Attract Foreign Investors Lies in the Development of the Insurance Market

Business Opportunities in Belarus Encourage Outside Interest

Central And Eastern Europe At the World Property Market

OECD: Belarus Has to Find Its Own Belarusian Model to Emerge

Italy and Belarus: A Relationship Based on Complementarities and History

Belarus: The Importance Of Diversification

Belarusian Economic Recovery May Downgrade Intended Reforms for Competitiveness

New investors interested in Belarus’ Great Stone Industrial Park

Falling Student Numbers and Declining R&D Result From Lack of Funds

The Belarusian Economy: The Challenges of Stalled Reforms

The Great Stone Industrial Park — Making Doing Business Easy in Minsk

Belarus’s Election Tests the EU’s Global Strategy

Not All Quiet on the Eastern Front

Belarus Is Ready to Begin With Venture Capital Investments

Belarus: MOST Builds a Bridge to the Future

“e-Belarus”: Embracing the Internet and its Possibilities

Belarus and Singapore Share the Same Factors for Economic Success

Winds of Change for Belarus’ Reinsurance Industry?

From Denmark to Belarus — A Personal Experience of Business

Long-time Neighbours Need to Share Awareness, Plus Trade & Investment

Are Labour Shortages Driving Economic Growth?

High-Tech Park in Minsk is growing rapidly

Germany Is Not Letting Belarus’ Small Downturns Put it off Looking for Investment Opportunities

Foreigners choose Minsk and Gomel as Belarus’ most attractive FDI destinations

Cautious Upturn in Emerging Europe Haunted by the Spectre of Uncertainty

Donald Trump

PandaDoc — Rolling Sales Procedures Together So Everyone Succeeds

The Belarusian real estate market is on the up

The Deep Roots of Currency Crises in the Former Soviet Union

Outsourcing in Germany: Stop Talking at and Start Talking to

Belarus Has To Make an Extra Effort To Change Investors’ Perceptions

One Belt One Road: a Big Task for Europe

Emerging Europe Live: Life in Belarus As Seen by Foreigners

Emerging Europe Live: CEE — The Outsourcing Destination

Belarus: Changing Old Ideas And Mixing With the New in Belarus’ Export Market

Innovation Brings Great Opportunities to the Belarusian Economy

The Belarusian Banking Sector Moving Towards Modernisation Despite Some Challenges

Belarus Has Set an Example for Others to Follow

Belarus: On the Way to a Market Economy?

FocusEconomics: Belarusian Economy to Grow in Q4 2016 and Onwards

The Belarusian Financial Sector: An Industry in the Process of Restructuring

Why Is Belarus Tech Booming?

Brexit Makes Waves Across the European Union and Beyond

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *