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Petrochemistry, food industry, machinery can spearhead Belarus' economic growth in 2010

In 2010 main efforts should be focused on the industries that can spearhead Belarus’ economic growth, Georgy Grits, first deputy director of the National Investment Agency, said in an interview while commenting on the most important parameters of the social and economic development forecast approved by President’s Decree No595 of 7 December.

The goals are very ambitious. The global financial crisis is not yet over. According to the forecasts, the recession will continue into 2010, Georgy Grits said. In this connection Belarus’ ambition to have the GDP growth at 11-13% is extremely difficult, yet achievable. “I believe we need to choose the points of growth and concentrate all administrative and financial resources on them. To support the whole economy is hardly possible today. This does not mean that other enterprises should be left abandoned. It is just that we need to give maximum attention to the producers that can generate the growth,” Georgy Grits said.

Petrochemistry is one of such points of growth, Georgy Grits said. “I mean deep processing of oil and production of new types of products: plastic goods, fibers and others,” he said. The food industry is very promising too. “Given the plans on the common customs area, non-tariff measures will not be applied to Belarusian economic entities,” he added.

The Customs Union opens up new prospects for the Belarusian machinery construction. Once protective tariffs measures come into force in Kazakhstan and Russia, Chinese equipment in Kazakhstan and European and American equipment in Russia will lose a competitive edge to Belarusian-made MAZs, BelAZ.

Georgy Grits thinks it necessary to give a higher priority to the development of the pharmaceutical industry. “This year’s pandemic revealed that the demand for medicines will definitely grow. We have preserved the pharmaceutical industry and can use breakthrough technologies,” he said.

Apart from that, the development of the energy market is high on the agenda, too. “This topic should be discussed with regard to the unified system of production and transportation of energy resources in the Customs Union. This includes the sales of Russian energy resources to Europe via Belarus, oil pipelines, etc,” the expert said. He expressed his concern over the development of the light industry of Belarus. “This industry is very likely to be affected badly. The question is what we should do with it,” he said.

Georgy Grits believes that projecting the 11-13% GDP growth in Belarus, it is essential to estimate objectively the capability of our enterprises. “Gross targets should be calculated very carefully for each enterprise taking into consideration its competitive advantages and ability to produce competitive products. These targets can vary from 20% to 5% or 2%,” he explained.

Investments are crucial to secure economic growth in Belarus. “We are talking not only about portfolio investments which are raised by the National Bank, but also about strategic investments, when an investor also provides technologies, markets and holds responsibility for the implementation of his or our joint investment projects,” Georgy Grits underlined.

According to the socio-economic development forecast, in 2010 capital investments in Belarus will increase by 23-25% as against 2009. Georgy Grits considers it achievable. “I would say this figure is average, it can be raised even further,” he said. “I mean direct investments rather than portfolio investments. The growth of direct investments can be 25% and more,” Georgy Grits said.

According to the expert, it is necessary to implement the mechanism the Prime Minister spoke about. “It means that investment projects should be supported at the national level. There are plans to raise the status of the National Investment Agency,” he said. “Unfortunately problems still occur at the level of local authorities. There are disagreements at the regional level as well,” Georgy Grits said.

The work on attracting investments should be intensified. “A real mechanism necessary for working with investment projects should be elaborated in the early 2010. From my point of view, all legislative issues have already been settled. The parliament, the President and the government have done everything necessary to create favorable conditions for investors. Decree No10, liberalization and tax policy, just to name a few,” he said.

“First of all, we should choose top ten investors and show the world by concrete examples that large and solid transnational companies have come to Belarus,” Georgy Grits said.


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