VITEBSK, 22 February (BelTA) – In 2020 companies residing in the free economic zone (FEZ) Vitebsk turned out over Br1.6 billion worth of industrial goods, 17% up from 2019, the FEZ Vitebsk administration told BelTA.
Despite the business restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic the companies managed to increase earnings from sales by nearly 2% to about Br2 billion. Profit from sales rose by 34.6% to Br176.2 million, with net profit exceeding Br92 million. Merchandise export totaled $553.8 million or nearly one third of Vitebsk Oblast's export. Surplus of the foreign trade in merchandise totaled $177.5 million, with surplus of the foreign trade in services at $13.5 million. FEZ Vitebsk is the only free economic zone, which export exceeded import. Foreign partners bought $24.4 million worth of services. At the same time these figures were affected by the performance of large companies that manufacture and sell products made out of hydrocarbons. Those companies could not fully realize their export potential due to objective domestic and foreign reasons.
In 2020 FEZ Vitebsk companies raised $31.1 million in foreign direct investments, over 16% up from 2019. Net FDI totaled $16.1 million or 40.6% of Vitebsk Oblast's net FDI.
Labor productivity growth rate totaled 118.8%, with output per worker close to Br200,000. As many as 235 jobs were created or more than 1.5 times as much as last year's business plans stipulated. The average number of listed employees in FEZ Vitebsk companies was close to 16,600 people. The average monthly salary rose by 13.2% in 2020 to Br1,129.3 or 7.5% above Vitebsk Oblast's. The resident companies paid about Br154.6 million in taxes and duties, 5.5% up from 2019.
A total of 56 investment projects involving investors from 15 countries, including Germany, Czechia, Russia, Poland, UK, USA, Israel, Cyprus, and Estonia, are being implemented in FEZ Vitebsk. Six companies with the total volume of declared investments at $35.3 million were registered as FEZ Vitebsk residents in 2020. They intend to create at least 100 jobs. Three companies have been registered as FEZ Vitebsk residents so far this year. A number of projects are in the pipeline, with the companies tentatively scheduled for registration in H1 2021.
The free economic zone (FEZ) Vitebsk was established in 1999 and comprises 16 sectors with the total area of nearly 2,800ha. Eight sectors are located in Vitebsk, five in Orsha District, one in Novopolotsk, one in Postavy, and another one in Polotsk District.