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Bright future for Belarus as center of IT competences

Economy 14.03.2018 | 19:09

MINSK, 14 March (BelTA) – Belarus may become the world's center of competence in several areas of the IT sphere. The statement was made by Denis Aleinikov, a member of the Digital Economy Development Council, as members of the lower chamber of the Belarusian parliament met with top officials of the Hi-Tech Park, BelTA has learned.

Denis Aleinikov said: “Belarus has a chance of fighting for the title of the regional center of competences. And when I say regional, I am being modest. Belarus can become a global center of competence in several areas such as artificial intelligence, blockchain technology, and maybe the Internet of Things. It is a matter of getting things done but the appropriate conditions have been enabled by the [Digital Economy Development] Ordinance.”

In his words, the document is designed to make Belarus the world's best jurisdiction for high-tech business. The new and competitive legal framework offers every condition for the country to be able to face the world's top jurisdictions such as Switzerland and Singapore. The framework is designed to attract the attention of the foreign high-tech community, including through analysis and comparison of legal regimes.

Speaking about the novelties the Digital Economy Development Ordinance offers, Denis Aleinikov reminded that the document had extended the duration of the Hi-Tech Park's special taxation and regulation regime till 2049. The step offers certainty and stability, which are important considerations for foreign investors. The Hi-Tech Park's resident companies are now allowed to pursue new types of activity such as the development of biotechnologies, medical technologies, aviation technologies, space technologies, and cybersport.

Residents of the Hi-Tech Park can now commercialize software products. Ads can be part of a software product. Paid subscriptions for software products or other means of monetization are allowed. In the past one would wonder why successful Belarusian products were sold abroad, with the home country getting no revenues from it. It turned out that the legislation was the key, noted Denis Aleinikov. Due to the legislation it was not profitable to be in Belarus and pay for advertising to promote a product since taxes accounted for about 50% of the advertising sums. This is why Belarusian companies would set up headquarters and profit centers abroad in order to sell their products. With the Digital Economy Development Ordinance in force, it is no longer necessary to pay for the upkeep of companies abroad. By the way, the intention of the community to move money from foreign offices to Minsk has already been declared.

The Digital Economy Development Ordinance also simplifies document flow. Sending digital messages, making public offers on the web are new instruments for Belarus but tried-and-tested ones in the rest of the world. “The Digital Economy Development Ordinance allows signing a contract, including a commercial one, by exchanging mobile texts. It is normal and works in many countries,” noted Denis Aleinikov. “The Digital Economy Development Ordinance says that a contract can be sealed by exchanging any messages via information systems. The text of these messages has to specify essential conditions of the contract. And the situation has to allow determining the sources of these messages.” Signatures, including digital ones, are no longer required. It is an essential novelty brought about by the Digital Economy Development Ordinance.

The Digital Economy Development Ordinance also introduced smart contracts powered by the blockchain technology as an instrument for making transactions. Smart contracts are designed to automatically perform transactions or carry out other legally binding actions. It is the right step towards digital law, Denis Aleinikov was convinced. As for the blockchain technology, it is a global trend these days. Belarus has done everything to stay at the forefront. Including by enabling more attractive legal conditions, which are supposed to bring people, who want to explore such technologies, to Belarus. It will have a cumulative effect on the country as a whole.

Speaking about returns on investment, Denis Aleinikov noted that it is too early to talk about any commercial results for now. But positive interest in Belarus has increased. More than 100 publications have been released, including by Bloomberg and Reuters. These are not paid advertising. The articles have been written by reporters on their own. The Digital Economy Development Ordinance has not come into force yet but it has already aroused a huge interest in the Belarusian IT sector. It is worth noting that half of the companies residing in the Hi-Tech Park are companies with a share of foreign investments. It means foreign currency will be spent in the country. New jobs will be created, too.

Participants of the meeting discussed the main provisions of the Digital Economy Development Ordinance in detail. They agreed that the document enabled unprecedented conditions for the development of the country's IT industry. The Digital Economy Development Ordinance was sent for consideration of the House of Representatives of the National Assembly of Belarus.

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