Analysis of free economic zones in Belarus focuses on Great Stone Industrial Park, developed in partnership with China
Belarus’s free economic zones and the Great Stone Industrial Park can become a serious factor in the country’s development and regional economic integration, two related reports say.
Research by the EBRD and a paper by the China Center for International Knowledge on Development (CIKD) have been launched ahead of the Central Asia Investment Forum in Beijing, co-organised by the EBRD and the People’s Bank of China.
Using the example of the Great Stone Industrial Park, which forms part of the China-led Belt and Road Initiative, an EBRD report says that free economic zones and the High-Tech Park in Belarus “contributed significantly to the country’s net FDI inflows and played a crucial role in exports formation.”
The Great Stone Industrial Park is the latest special economic zone in the country which aims to attract foreign and domestic investors in high technology sectors. The zone will also have residential areas for employees, built on sustainability principles. Close to the capital, Minsk, the park is also conveniently located for the international airport.
The park, initiated in 2010, is sometimes known as the China-Belarus Industrial Park and is a joint initiative by the two governments (it also has a small German shareholding). According to its backers, Great Stone Industrial Park is expected to become a modern international eco-city with an emphasis on producing high-tech and innovative products with high export potential within the duty-free Eurasian Economic Union market as well as neighbouring European countries.
Over the past year, the EBRD has been examining China’s successful experience of development zones and industrial parks in countries that are central to the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), conducting research in partnership with CIKD and other institutions
The outcome of the research include the EBRD’s report “Belarus: Comparative Research on Industrial Parks and Special Economic Zones (SEZs)” and CIKD’s paper “A proactive and steady approach for the building of the China-Belarus Industrial Park”.
The reports’ publication coincided with a bilateral meeting in Beijing between EBRD President Suma Chakrabarti and President Li Wei of the Chinese Development Research Centre of the State Council (DRC), of which CIKD is part. The two Presidents met to discuss the Belt and Road Initiative in the EBRD regions.
This analytical work has helped the Bank open up more policy dialogue with the Belarusian authorities on their plans for the development of a market oriented economy in general and the Great Stone Industrial Park in particular. Earlier this year, a trilateral Memorandum of Understanding with the Park Administration and the Park management company outlined future cooperation, including a potential for the EBRD to consider opportunities for investment in the Industrial Park.