The 2016 Small Business Act assessment recommends further reforms to boost small and medium-sized enterprises in Belarus (27/01/2016)

The official launch of the SME Policy Index: Eastern Partner Countries 2016 – Assessing the Implementation of the Small Business Act for Europereport in Belarus took place in Minsk on 27 January 2016. The SME Policy Index report has been prepared jointly by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the European Commission, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the European Training Foundation (ETF).

This launch event is the culmination of a 12-month participatory assessment process to evaluate the SME development policies of Belarus as well as the other five Eastern partner countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine) against the principles of the Small Business Act for Europe (SBA). The assessment process has been conducted in co-operation with the Government of the Republic of Belarus and with the participation of relevant stakeholders including private sector representatives. This is the second SBA assessment in the Eastern partner region, following an initial assessment in 2012.

In its finding for Belarus, the report identifies slow but steady progress since 2012 in promoting SMEs as a source of economic diversification in the country. The government has undertaken important reforms in key areas, such as insolvency, business registration and public procurement. Belarusian SMEs also present significant levels of innovation activity and internationalisation compared with regional peers. However, the potential of the SME sector in Belarus remains untapped: SMEs only represent 22.3% of GDP in 2013, compared to close to an average of 60% in the EU. Further reforms are required to, for instance, strengthen the institutional environment for SME policy making, develop business support infrastructure, promote entrepreneurship and SME skills, and resolve legal and regulatory bottlenecks to facilitate access to finance. Broader economic liberalisation measures are also recommended to create a level playing field for businesses.

The Belarus launch event was chaired by Mr Anton Kudasov, Deputy Minister of Economy of the Republic of Belarus, H.E.  Andrea Wiktorin, EU Ambassador to Belarus, and Mr Antonio Somma, Head of OECD Eurasia Competitiveness Programme. The audience comprised around 100 participants representing different ministries, government agencies, business support organisations, civil society groups, academia, as well as several diplomatic missions and international organisations present in Belarus.

The report "SME Policy Index: Eastern Partner Countries 2016 – Assessing the Implementation of the Small Business Act for Europe" is available here.