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 2022, FDI inflows to Belarus stood at USD 1.2 billion in 2021, marking an 11.7% year-on-year decrease; while the total stock of FDI was estimated at USD 15.1 billion (around 22.2% of the country’s GDP). According to data from the national statistical office Belstat, FDIs are mostly directed towards industry and manufacturing (34.7%), wholesale and retail trade (23%), transportation and storage (16.3%), and information and communication (9.8%). In 2022, foreign investors contributed USD 7 billion to the economy of Belarus, with Russia being the main investing country, followed by the Netherlands and Cyprus (where capital comes mostly from Russian sources). In terms of total stock, Russia has the majority of FDIs (41.4%), ahead of the UK (6.8%), Cyprus (9.4%) and Austria (7.4% - Belstat). 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).
Belarus 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. The country has six Special Economic Zones, access to developed energy, great openness to neighbouring countries and a skilled workforce. 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, and the housing and utilities sector. Belarus’ privatization program has been in practice extremely limited in recent years, and the State Property Committee recently announced that it had no plans for any mass privatization in the country. Although foreign and domestic investors formally enjoy the same rights, in practice the national government may impose limits on a case-by-case basis. Following the Russian war against Ukraine, Western countries (including the U.S. and the EU) imposed wide-ranging sanctions towards Belarus as the country was accused of facilitating the invasion, making it a less attractive destination for FDI. In response to that, the government of Belarus approved a decree that provides for special fees for any early termination of contracts; prevents business partners from “unfriendly” countries from selling their shares in Belarusian joint stocks; increases taxation on any income of foreign partners (including dividends, royalties, and interests); and orders all debts to foreign partners to be paid in local currency. Finally, the country ranks 77th out of 132 in the 2022 Global Innovation Index and 91st out of 180 in the Corruption Perception Index.
|Foreign Direct Investment||2020||2021||2022|
|FDI Inward Flow (million USD)||1,398||1,238||1,603|
|FDI Stock (million USD)||13,717||14,657||16,055|
|Number of Greenfield Investments*||17||9||4|
|Value of Greenfield Investments (million USD)||689||338||154|
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.
Belarus' main strong points include:
The country's weak points include:
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Latest Update: September 2023