Foreign firms are increasingly taking advantage of the investment and business opportunities in Belarus’ transport and logistics sector.
Belarus’ geographical position between the EU and the CIS presents huge opportunities for investors in the country’s underdeveloped logistics industry. This potential is illustrated by the fact that just 8% of the goods which pass through Belarus end up in logistics centres in the country, with the vast majority processed in Russia.
One of the first companies to recognise the opportunity was BLT Logistics which opened the first modern logistics centres in Belarus in 2007.
The hub, on the outskirts of Minsk, offers a full range of services including freight loading and unloading, storage, packing and labelling facilities, and was given a US $4 million upgrade in 2008. Its 90 staff mostly handle fast-moving consumer goods, electronics, tobacco and confectionary for clients including Nokia, Samsung, Bosch, British American Tobacco and Moulinex.
BLT is already investing US $30 million in a new hub, in Obchak, 8km from Minsk’s main orbital road, which will increase its capacity four-fold. It will link Belarus into the wider international transport network and the Belarusian authorities are drawing up legislation which will allow it to build an integrated Customs clearing point.
Viktor Veklenko, BLT Logistics’ deputy head, has remarked that: “There is a huge market potential for logistics in Belarus and a significant opportunity to capture a share of the market and to grow it.”
A sign of Belarus’ emergence as a location for foreign investment in recent years is demonstrated by the rising number of international airlines with operations in the country.
One of the longest serving is the German national carrier, Lufthansa, which has been flying into Minsk since 1992 and has seen passenger demand increase markedly in the past few years, mainly down to greater interest from business people.
By 2009 the airline was flying to Minsk seven times a week, via its Frankfurt hub, carrying up to 750 passengers a week to the Belarusian capital from all over the world.
To meet the increased demand, Lufthansa is keen to expand the number of flights to Belarus’ main airport, Minsk National Airport, which lies about 45km from the capital.
As of June 2009 the airport receives direct flights from over 20 international cities including London, Rome, Moscow, Tel Aviv, Prague and Istanbul.