Manufacturing is the largest part of the economy of Belarus, as befits its heritage as the former engineering powerhouse of the Soviet Union. With a highly skilled workforce and modern manufacturing methods, the sector provides 28% of the country’s gross domestic product.
“Belarus has a rich industrial heritage resulting
in a high level of economic diversification.”
Standard & Poor’s
Belarus has traditionally excelled at heavy industry and is one of the world’s largest suppliers of mining and quarrying vehicles, while Minsk Tractor Works produces a tenth of the world’s tractors and MAZ exports buses, coaches and lorries around the globe. As well as heavy industry and plant manufacturing, Belarus has a strong capability in light manufacturing and engineering, including semiconductors, electrical goods, optics and textiles. The expertise of many of these companies has been recognised by overseas firms: Belomo, a specialist in lenses and optics, for example, has been operating a joint venture with Zeiss, a high-end German company, for more than a decade.
Milavitsa, a lingerie manufacturer, was one of the first companies in Belarus to receive international investment, initially from the European Bank for Reconstruction & Development and more latterly from a European fashion house.
It now exports around the world. State-owned manufacturing companies form a large proportion of Belarus’ privatisation programme and many are seeking foreign investment. Companies on the list for the next round of privatisation include BelAZ, the largest truck producer in the CIS, MAZ, and Belgaztekhnika, which manufactures gas engineering equipment.
To aid investment into the sector, Belarus is introducing new incentives for foreign capital. In 2009 it introduced legislation giving car manufacturers relocating to the republic a three year exemption from all taxes.