Belarus is a landlocked country in the North-East of Europe with the population of 9.480,9 million (on 1 January 2015) and total land of 207,600 km² (source: World Bank). The GDP in 2014 was USD 166.537bn. The country’s capital is Minsk. There are two official languages: Belarusian and Russian.
The President of the Republic of Belarus has been Alexander Lukashenko since 1995. Belarus exists under a consolidated authoritarian regime.
The legal system in Belarus belongs to the Roman-Germanic Law Family. Roman Law (jurisprudence of Ancient Rome) is the primary source of this law family. The main characteristics of the Roman-Germanic Law Family are: optimal generalisation of the rule of law and the division of law into public and private law. A normative legal act is the main legal source in countries with legal systems based on the Roman-Germanic Law Family (unlike those countries with legal systems based on the Common Law Family).
Skilled workforce, large industrial potential inherited from the Soviet Union and improving regulatory framework are what the Republic of Belarus has to offer foreign investors. Being a founding member of the Eurasian Economic Union, the country serves not only as a gateway to Russia but also to the whole Central Asia regional market with more than 180 million consumers.
Belarusian IT specialists are one of the country’s great assets. There are about 445,000 students currently enrolled at Belarus’s 54 higher education institutions each year (source: EACEA) , an impressive number bearing in mind the country’s relatively small population of about 9 million. Currently, Belarusians earn roughly the same as Bulgarians and Romanians — almost EUR 386 per month across the country and close to EUR 528 per month in Minsk.
BUSINESS, FDI & EXPORT
In 2014, there were about 114,200 SMEs, more than twice as many as in 2007. Also, the number of registered companies with foreign capital doubled to reach 7,000 in 2015. Even though a lot of challenges are still to be overcome, according to the World Bank’s Doing Business ranking, in recent years Belarus has been more active to foreign investors. Favourable legislation to easy investment climate lifted the country up to the 44th position in 2015.
Between 2011 and 2014, Belarus attracted foreign direct investment worth USD 636.1 million (source: National Bank of the Republic of Belarus). The main investors are Russia (28.3 per cent), Cyprus (20.5 per cent), the Netherlands (7.6 per cent), Lithuania (6.5 per cent), Switzerland (6.3 per cent), the UK (5.1 per cent), China (4.1 per cent), Germany, Poland and the US (about 2 per cent each).
Commodity structure of export (2014):
- mineral products – 34.2%
- chemical industry production, rubber – 17,1%
- cars, equipment and vehicles – 15,5%
- black, nonferrous metals and products – 6,5%
- food and agricultural raw materials – 15,2%
- others – 11,5%
Commodity structure of import (2014):
- mineral products – 29,8%
- cars, equipment and vehicles – 25,8%
- black, nonferrous metals and products – 9,1%
- chemical industry production, rubber – 14,1%
- articles of food and agricultural raw materials – 11,8%
- others – 9,4%
Belarus is the 62nd largest export economy in the world and the 27th most complex economy (source: OECD).
Until 2008, Belarus showed a strong growth. During 2001–08, Belarus’s GDP grew on average by 8.3 per cent annually, more rapidly than both the Europe and Central Asia region (5.7 per cent) and the Commonwealth of Independent States (7.1 per cent) (source: World Bank).
Growth slowed down substantially in the context of the global economic crisis in 2008 and 2009. Since early 2013 signs of regaining macroeconomic stability have been recorded. Tight monetary and fiscal policy in late 2011 and through 2012 helped to hold inflation to less than 22 per cent in 2012.
Macroeconomic stability, however, continues to be fragile. Not only the dramatic rise in consumer prices threatens the country’s economic future but also significant external refinancing needs as Belarus has largely been relying on external debt to finance its current account deficit.