There are several ways that investors and entrepreneurs can engage with the government of Belarus and contribute to further improvements in the investment climate.
The government’s desire to engage with business and improve the climate for investment is exemplified by the Foreign Investment Advisory Council.
Set up in 2000, the Council is a forum for the business community, international organisations like the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the United Nations Development Programme, and the government to discuss and improve the legislative and regulatory framework of Belarus.
Current business members include Coca-Cola, Ernst & Young and Deloitte and the Council has been very successful in tackling the tax and customs regime, streamlining the administrative processes and cutting the tax burden.
Improving trade relations with the European Union is a priority for Belarus and its businesses. Since 2007 this process has been greatly aided by the creation of the Belarus-EU Business Cooperation Council which was set up with express purpose of dismantling trade barriers and regulatory obstacles.
The Council is based in Brussels and has 21 companies including large British, Italian, Austrian, German, Dutch and US companies. It has links with the Belarusian Chambers of Commerce and works to raise awareness about EU standards and regulations, and about investment opportunities in the republic.
The Council for Entrepreneurship in Belarus acts as a forum for the rapidly growing small business community to communicate with government to improve the business environment.
Council activity has resulted in several reforms including the simplification of the tax system from 18 business taxes to four and an improved VAT regime.