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EU ready to assist Belarus with SME development

Economy 15.03.2017 | 16:47
Andrea Wiktorin. An archive photo
Andrea Wiktorin. An archive photo

MINSK, 15 March (BelTA) – The European Union is ready to provide all-round support to Belarus in developing small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), Head of the European Union Delegation to Belarus Andrea Wiktorin said at the presentation of the peer review project Upgrading SME Capacity Through Business Support Services in Belarus on 15 March, BelTA has learned.

Andrea Wiktorin emphasized the urgency of the subject matter, since the non-public sector plays an important role in ensuring employment of the population and improving the competitive edge of the economy. The potential of private companies is not fully utilized in Belarus so far.

“Today we have launched a roadmap of reforms developed by experts working with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) with the support of their colleagues from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the World Bank, and the business community. Such cooperation resulted in recommendations on key aspects of SMEs, including the provision of entrepreneurship support services. The recommendations have been welcomed by the government and reflected in program documents,” Andrea Wiktorin said.

The European Union will continue working to implement similar projects designed to improve the business environment, eliminate administrative burdens for businesses, and liberalize the market. According to Andrea Wiktorin, the priorities also include supporting Belarus' accession to the World Trade Organization, increasing the transparency and predictability of the investment climate in the country, promoting market mechanisms, and developing measures for social protection of unemployed persons.

“We are ready to provide all-round support to small and medium-sized business. The capacity upgrade project is part of the considerable work that the European Union is conducting in conjunction with other international institutions supporting private initiatives, including at the local level. The dialogue should be continued, and work is underway to prepare a new long-term program for cooperation with Belarus,” Andrea Wiktorin pointed out.

Over the past several years, the OECD, the European Commission, the EBRD, and the European Training Foundation carried out an evaluation of compliance with the provisions of the Small Business Act in the six Eastern Partner countries, including Belarus. Such work helps governments carry out a comprehensive evaluation of the effectiveness of the SME policy. Based on the results of the monitoring, a decision was made on the joint work to strengthen the capacities of the non-public sector. Plans have been made to develop a sustainable market of entrepreneurship support services, increase the share of private consulting companies, and improve the business climate.

The peer review report presented on 15 March includes auxiliary analytical data and outlines major cooperation areas. These include application of a strategic approach in the SME development, strengthening of the institutes involved in the development and implementation of the private sector support policy, study of latent demand for services, organization of regular entrepreneur needs assessments, enhancement of entrepreneurs' awareness of the support mechanism and access to it, development of market supply in this field, and improvement of the business climate for consultants.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development is an international organization of economically developed countries that recognize principles of participatory democracy and free market economy. The organization is a forum that enables the government of the member states to discuss, develop and coordinate the economic and social policy. The mission of the OECD is to promote policies that improve the economic and social wellbeing of people around the world. The organization maintains active partner relations with over 70 non-member economies, including Belarus. The OECD Eurasia Competitiveness Program was launched in 2008 to support Eurasian economies in developing more vibrant and competitive markets to achieve sustainable economic development in Central Asia and Eastern Europe.

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