The process of creating free economic zones in the Republic of Belarus began relatively recently. In accordance with the national “Concept for the organization of free (special) economic zones in the territory of the Republic of Belarus”, the creation of FEZs is considered as an important link in the implementation of the principles of an open economy. FEZ is one of the important levers for attracting foreign investment in certain sectors of the Belarusian economy, contributing to the accelerated development of some regions.
The creation of FEZ on the territory of the Republic of Belarus is due to the following reasons:
the country’s need for foreign investment; the need for structural restructuring of production in order to integrate the country’s economy into the system of the world economy; the advantageous location of Belarus, predetermining the interest of foreign investors for the development of the market of the republic and the CIS countries; features of the economy, consisting in the insufficient provision of natural resources and at the same time the high potential of processing industries with a skilled labor force, which implies the orientation of production to the export of high-tech products.
Currently, six free economic zones have been created and are functioning on the territory of the Republic of Belarus: FEZ “Brest”, FEZ “Minsk”, FEZ “Gomel-Raton”, FEZ “Vitebsk”, FEZ “Mogilev”, FEZ “Grodnoinvest”. All FEZ operating in the Republic of Belarus are complex zones.
The goals and objectives of each of the FEZs are determined depending on the functional type of FEZ established by the relevant Regulation on the FEZ. Basically, this is the attraction and effective use of foreign and national investments for the creation and development of export-oriented industries based on modern and high technologies, as well as the effective use of existing production facilities. However, there are also specific goals. For example:
for FEZ “Gomel-Raton” – this is the involvement of non-traditional resources and energy sources in production activities; for FEZ “Brest” – expansion of production of consumer goods and services; for the FEZ “Minsk” – increasing the load of the airport “Minsk-2” and further development of air traffic; for FEZ “Vitebsk” and “Mogilev” – development and ensuring the effective use of the existing engineering and transport infrastructure; for FEZ Grodnoinvest – transformation of advanced resource- and energy-saving technologies into the region’s economy.
At the same time, there are norms that limit the application of preferential treatment to certain types of economic activity. Thus, in the FEZ “Mogilev” and “Vitebsk” tax benefits do not apply to trade and trade and procurement activities of FEZ residents. In the FEZ “Minsk”, “Gomel-Raton”, “Grodnoinvest”, the rights and benefits also do not apply to public catering establishments. State enterprises, institutions and organizations of energy, railway, air and other main transport and communications cannot be registered as residents in the FEZ “Brest”; tax benefits do not apply to activities related to gambling.
Free economic zones of Belarus attracted to
In 2003, the country’s economy received about 84 million dollars of foreign investment, which is 2.7 times more than in 2002.
The increase in investment in 2003 was facilitated by the expansion of the boundaries of free economic zones. The appearance of new engineering-equipped production facilities in the FEZ “Vitebsk” made it possible to register last year
11 new residents with a total declared investment of $11.2 million. FEZ “Minsk” border change made it possible to start preparations for the implementation of 8 projects worth
85 million dollars, in the FEZ “Gomel-Raton” – 5 projects with a total cost of 102.6 million dollars.
In 2003, the growth of production volumes compared to 2002 amounted to 169%, revenues from the sale of products, goods and services – 167%, exports of goods – 147%, revenues of taxes, fees and other deductions to the budget and extrabudgetary funds – 170%.
Thus, as experience shows, SEZs contribute to:
creation of favorable conditions for the economic development of the region, revival of foreign economic activity in it; attraction of additional foreign investments in the economic process, thereby reducing the need for loans; development of the export base due to the creation by foreign partners of production facilities based on the latest technologies, which makes it possible to reduce foreign exchange costs for imports, due to the saturation of the domestic market with import-substituting products; introduction into production of foreign scientific and technical developments and inventions; acceleration of the socio-economic development of the territory, etc.