China-Belarus industrial park to play important role in Silk Road initiative



As China-proposed Silk Road Economic Belt initiative is being pushed forward, the construction of the China-Belarus industrial park, nicknamed Great Stone, has also been stepped up here.

The Great Stone Industrial Park, 25 km from the Belarusian capital city of Minsk, is a territorial entity of approximately 91.5 square kilometers. The park boasts an advantageous geographic position owing to its vicinity of the Minsk International Airport.

According to the construction plan developed by both Chinese and Belarusian design experts, production and living areas, offices and shopping malls, as well as financial and research centers are to be built in the park.

The preliminary stage of the construction, which is expected to take about two years, is focused on the basic infrastructure necessary for enterprises that are going to settle in.

The idea of jointly building an industrial park has gone through a long and unusual process before it became a reality.

Top leaders of Belarus have realized the need to reform the country's economic structure long ago. Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko proposed to learn from China its experience of economic reform about 20 years ago. Entering the 21st century, with fruits of China's economic reform being witnessed worldwide, Belarusian leaders have developed a stronger desire to cooperate with China.

Three years before China proposed the "Belt and Road" initiative in 2013, Lukashenko expressed his wish to jointly build an industrial park with China in Belarus, which immediately received a positive response from Beijing.

In October 2010, the Belarusian Economy Ministry signed a preliminary agreement on the construction of the industrial park with a subsidiary of China National Machinery Industry Corporation.

The project was finally agreed in September 2011 when an intergovernmental agreement between Beijing and Minsk was inked in Belarus during a visit by the then top Chinese legislator Wu Bangguo.

The idea of the project came from Belarus' need for economic restructuring, said Li Haixin, general manager of China-Belarus Industrial Park Development Co., Ltd.

"Belarus has witnessed the growth of China's industrial parks in the past 15 to 20 years, and hopes to build one in its own territory," Li said.

"The project is mutually beneficial as China has got practical experience and its enterprises hope to go abroad, while the Belarusian side wants to adjust its industrial structure," added Li.

After determining the site of the park, planners decided to build it into one that will concentrate on the fields of electronic information, bio-pharmaceuticals, fine chemical industry, as well as high-end manufacture and logistics.

The Belarusian side has introduced a "10+10" preferential taxation policy, which will offer companies an exemption from all corporation taxes in the first 10 years since their registration as residents in the park and a reduction of tax rates by 50 percent during the subsequent 10 years.

The Silk Road Economic Belt initiative, put forward by Chinese President Xi Jinping, has changed the traditional idea of regional economic cooperation, and helped build a corridor of economic development which features resource-sharing and mutual-beneficial cooperation.

The initiative will make it possible the interconnection among Eurasian countries in areas of transport, trade, investment and finance.

As the most important economic and trade cooperation project between China and Belarus, the Great Stone Industrial Park will be one of the key points of the Silk Road Economic Belt initiative, which is bound to play a great role not only in the economic development of China and Belarus, but also in the all-round cooperation among Eurasian nations.