The Belarusian-European investment forum – ‘Belarus. Invest in Tomorrow’ – took place in Luxembourg on 27 October, brining together around 200 European businessmen, as well as government and business delegations from Belarus.
Among the participants were the Ministry of Economy of Luxembourg, the Luxembourg Bankers' Association, the Luxembourg Association of Investment Funds, the Innovation and Finance Luxembourg Associations, several Luxembourg financial institutions, the European Commission, the European Investment Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the Nordic Investment Bank, as well as the heads of leading international companies.
The key purpose of the forum was to create an effective and result-oriented tiered platform for establishing a stable interaction between Belarusian credit and finance institutions and Belarusian commercial entities and their European partners, in addition to promoting strong and unique aspects of the Belarusian economy (information technologies, logistics) among Western business circles.
Prime Minister of Belarus Andrei Kobyakov told the forum: “We resolutely intend to preserve the open nature of the economy and attract foreign investments. Any state-run enterprise can set up a joint venture. The manufacturing sector – I am referring to mechanical engineering, petrochemical industry, and electronics – accounts for one quarter of Belarus' GDP. We welcome the arrival of transnational companies and market leaders in these and other spheres.”
EU stepping up its support
European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighborhood Policy Johannes Hahn also attended the forum, telling participants that: “The business climate in Belarus has improved. The structural reforms that are happening in the country have contributed to this. We welcome this, particularly the efforts of the government to support small and medium-sized enterprises.”
He said the EU had increased its financial support to €29 million, more than a doubling of the budget initially planned. “We strongly support regional and private sector development, especially support to SMEs and offer new opportunities for skills and professional development.”
“In this context, we also provide networking, training and exchanges through the East Invest programme. We are ready to step up our assistance more,” the Commissioner said.
There were four panel discussions at the Forum:
2) Transcontinental transport and logistics corridors: formation and digitalization;
3) Belarus: The Silicon Valley of Eastern Europe;
4) Industrial and innovative.
Belarus’s top IT companies (EPAM Systems, Itransition, System Technologies, SoftClub) and the management of the High-Tech Park (the major IT cluster in Eastern Europe) presented the strengths of the IT sector in Belarus, while the Director at the EU’s DG for Communications Networks, Content and Technology, Gail Kent delivered a speech on the EU’s key directions in the sphere of digitisation. The panel’s moderator was Kiryl Domnitch, Liaison Officer for Belarus, at the EU4Business Secretariat.
The EU4Business programme has set up a number of initiatives in Belarus to support enterprise and sustainable growth. EU funding, channelled through EU4Business, focuses on improving access to finance and foreign markets, building business skills and encouraging entrepreneurship.