'New beginning to Sultanate-Belarus economic ties'

(MENAFN - Times of Oman) MUSCAT - Belarus has invited the businessmen of Oman to exploit the expertise and experience of Belarus on diverse fronts. Spelling out the investment potential, Anatoly M. Rusetsky, minister of industry of Belarus, has appealed to Omani business to explore potential tie-ups and joint ventures with Belarus. In a freewheeling chat with the Times of Oman Anatoly expressed confidence that a new beginning will be made between Oman and Belarus. Excerpts.

What is the status of the present economic cooperation between Oman and Belarus?

Hardly anything and that is why we are here to make a new beginning.

What is the outcome of your visit to Oman on the domain of economic cooperation?

Our visit here is viewed as a hallmark event that signifies a new beginning of economic interaction between Belarus and Oman. I believe the time is ripe for forging good economic ties and have more long-term and meaningful partnerships. We are accompanied by a big business delegation so that they can interact with Omani business fraternity. We have had good exchange of views with business people, government and their agencies.

Oman is having a full-fledged oil and gas industry; we can play an important role here as we can supply oil production-related machinery, heavy trucks, dumping tracks, etc., to Oman.

Oman has good experience in doing commerce since ages and we would like to use their expertise as well in developing business.

We have invited business people to Belarus and see for themselves our advancement in many fields.

Your country has enough opportunities to plough the foreign investment. How liberal is the government in attracting FDIs?

We have created six free economic zones. While the fiscal incentives include 9 per cent VAT, waiver of custom duty, advantages on profit tax, the non-fiscal incentives include free remittance of profits, etc. The economic zone also boasts of a sound infrastructure base.

Lots of enterprises work here and are reaping full benefits. A case in point is the Santa Bremor, a private seafood manufacturer based in the free economic zone, which is doing extremely good. Santa Bremor supplies its products to Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Germany, and Lebanon and has partnership ties with many companies in Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland and Russia.

I want to make a point here that working in economic zone is very profitable. Also, we have a free custom border with Russia.

Belarus' GDP grew 9.9 per cent in 2006, which is, according to the United Nations World Economic Situation and Prospects 2007 report, places Belarus among the most dynamically developing states of the world. What factors contributed to such a growth?

Our state policy to develop production activity in the country clicked. Our modernisation drive coupled with scientific and technical advancement helped in making us one of the most dynamically developing states of the world. Last year we produced 50,000 tractors and only 4,000 was meant for domestic use while the rest were exported.

In which core sectors would you like Omani businessmen to invest? What is of specific interest to Belarus in terms of investments?

Anything from high-tech to traditional sectors like IT, micro-electronics, food processing, textiles, machinery, machine tools, etc.

How serious you take Oman as a potential trading partner?

We take all our partners very seriously. For us, Oman is very important. As far as stability, security, and economic progress are concerned Oman has an excellent record. And people here are well-qualified and have a great business sense. Above all, its strategic location makes Oman a favourite destination to strike business ties.

In the last one-year how many joint ventures and foreign subsidiaries have set up shop in Belarus?

There are plenty of them, especially in the field of food processing, textiles, software, machinery, etc. Our industrial policy for the next five years is based on innovation development. With qualified labour force, research-based programmes, stable economy we will be able to deliver the required results.