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Opinions & Interviews

31 Dec 2020

Yan Gang on new centers of attraction for Chinese business in Belarus

Yan Gang on new centers of attraction for Chinese business in Belarus
Yan Gang. An archive photo

In 2021, the People's Republic of China will steadily continue to implement joint projects set out by the two countries' leaders in Belarus, Director General of the Great Stone Industrial Park Development Company, the head of the China Merchants Group Representative Office in Belarus Yan Gang said in an interview with BelTA. Yan Gang is sure that the China-Belarus Industrial Park Great Stone will become an advanced pilot platform in Belarus for international cooperation in a variety of fields, including logistics, new methods of combating COVID-19.

The goal was to make 2020 the first year of high-quality development of the China-Belarus Industrial Park Great Stone. What are the main outcomes of this year?

Recently, literally several days ago, the park hosted a ceremony to inaugurate the China-Belarus S&T cooperation center with an area of 19,000 square meters, built with the use of technical and economic aid of the People's Republic of China. This center will be an important platform for research and incubation of innovative projects, and an iconic facility of the park. A joint project of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus has already become a resident company of the park. Negotiations are underway with many other interested organizations.

This event serves as a confirmation that the industrial park firmly follows the goal towards high-quality development.

I would like to note that four inner roads were built on the grounds of the park in 2020. The park already has 32.3km of roads and 400km of road networks and other communications, and the total investment in the infrastructure of the park has amounted to $263 million as of today.

In addition, in 2020, three new standard production buildings were built, another one is under construction. Currently, nine production buildings have already been completed or are under construction. This year many activities to attract investment moved online due to the pandemic, however the park was still able to bring more than 13 new residents; 30 enterprises have already been put into operation in the park.

As for the ‘soft environment', the government is currently working on amending the presidential decree regulating the activities of the industrial park. The Great Stone Industrial Park Development Company and resident companies actively put forward proposals to improve the document based on their own experience in doing business.

I am confident that the efforts to streamline the legal framework will help improve the business climate, and the China-Belarus Industrial Park Great Stone will consistently move towards new heights.

Mr. Yan Gang, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a negative impact on the park's operation. Yet, are there any growth opportunities during and after the pandemic? How do you see the post-pandemic future of the park?

Although the pandemic has delivered a serious blow to the global economy, it has strengthened cooperation between China and Belarus in COVID containment efforts, as well as in trade and economy. A testimony to this is increasing traffic along the China-Europe railway route. The volume of operations of the park's resident company - China Merchants CHN-BLR Commerce and Logistics Company - has significantly increased.

During the pandemic, China promoted traditional Chinese medicine and pharmaceuticals on the European market. I am confident that the China-Belarus Industrial Park Great Stone will become an advanced pilot platform in Belarus for cooperation in this area.

During the pandemic Belarus has been increasing the export of its agricultural products and other commodities to China. Our countries have a huge potential for trade and economic cooperation.

I believe that after the pandemic, the park will continue attracting hi-tech manufacturing projects, promoting joint research projects and carrying out technical incubation for advanced manufacturing projects.

The working group on the China-Belarus Industrial Park Great Stone held its 13th meeting in October. What have been identified as the park's development priorities for 2021?

The China-Belarus Industrial Park Great Stone is a key joint project initiated by the leaders of China and Belarus and actively supported by both the governments. The parties will continue working to implement the agreements and instructions of the two heads of state, promote high-quality development of the park.

A number of priority areas have been pinpointed for 2021. Plans are in place to continue measures to prevent and control COVID-19, mitigate its impact, support investment projects of resident companies.

There are plans to develop a high-quality development program for the park. The feasibility study for the facilities of the second stage of the park is already underway. The park will continue using China's technical and economic aid to support its development.

The park plans to attract investment in more industries and to promote a platform for regional sci-tech cooperation. Much attention will be paid to the further improvement of the efficiency and quality of one-stop shop services provided to resident companies of the park.

The park's digitalization and improvement of information and statistical data exchange between the two countries will undoubtedly be one of the key priorities.

What is the status of cooperation between Belarus and China Merchants Group, the representative office of which you are heading in Minsk?

The China Merchants Charitable Foundation has maintained close cooperation with Belarus on various projects over the past years, and provides financial support for socially important projects every year.

This year China Merchants Charitable Foundation purchased $300,000 worth of medical supplies to help the Healthcare Ministry of Belarus to combat coronavirus infection.

Moreover, the company provided free warehousing services and logistics support for four humanitarian cargoes that the Belarusian government sent by charter flights to China. The Belarusian Healthcare Ministry and the Belarusian Embassy in China welcomed this assistance.

What projects has China Merchants Group implemented recently?

After the construction of the first facility of China Merchants Group's trade and logistics sub-park in the territory of the China-Belarus Industrial Park Great Stone in 2015, the company has also built and commissioned a business center and a trade and exhibition center.

In addition, China Merchants Group is the main investor in the hotel of the Minsk international exhibition center. The construction of the hotel is to begin in the near future.

I would like to point out that China Merchants Group jointly with the administration of the port of German's Duisburg and other partners is building a railway station in the park (the share of our company is 31%), which will enable direct railway freight traffic through the park.

At the same time, China Merchants Industry Holding Co., Ltd. is discussing a joint project in the industrial park with the Geely company.

The China-Belarus Industrial Investment Fund run by China Merchants Group also participated in funding and promoting three projects of the parks' resident companies.

How has the COVID-19 pandemic influenced the company's cooperation with Belarus?

The COVID-19 pandemic has not shaken China Merchants Group's confidence in investing in Belarus at all. As one of the shareholders of the Great Stone Industrial Park Development Company, we will continue taking advantage of the corporation's diverse activities. This means that we will continue facilitating Belarus-China cooperation in trade and economy, healthcare and traditional Chinese medicine, logistics and innovations.

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