General Legal Provisions Regulating Economic, Investment and Foreign Trade Activity
About the Republic of Belarus
Republic of Belarus is located in the center of Europe. The shortest transportation communications connecting CIS countries with West Europe lie in its territory. Belarus has a border with Poland, Baltic States, Russia and the Ukraine.
The territory of the republic is 207 thousand sq. km, its population – about 10 million people, 70% of which lives in cities and towns. About one fifth of the population of the country lives in the capital of Belarus – Minsk. In accordance with its administrative division the Republic has six Oblasts. The state languages are Belarusian and Russian. The most widely spread languages for business communication are Russian, English and German.
Administrative Map of Belarus
The Republic of Belarus is a unitary democratic social state based on the rule of law (article 1 of the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus). In accordance with article 8 of the Constitution the Republic of Belarus recognizes the priority of generally recognized principles of international law and provides compliance of its legislation with them. Foreign nationals and stateless persons on the territory of Belarus enjoy rights and liberties and execute duties on equal terms with the citizens of the Republic of Belarus unless otherwise specified in the Constitution, the laws and international treaties (article 11 of the Constitution).
Belarus is one of the most economically well-developed CIS countries. The share of industry in its economy is about 1/3 of its national product. Such industries as automobile construction, tractor construction and agricultural machine construction, machine tool building and bearing part manufacture, electric engineering, mining and processing of oil, synthetic fibers manufacture, mineral fertilizers, pharmaceutical industry, production of construction materials, light industry and food industry are developed the most. A typical feature of national industry is the production of ready-made products the majority of which is exported.
The Constitution of the Republic of Belarus recognizes two forms of ownership – state and private. It approves the provisions about granting equal rights to all to conduct economic and other activities. The state guarantees equal protection and equal conditions for the development of all forms of ownership, equal opportunities for free utilization of abilities and assets for business or other types of activities which are not banned by the law (article 13 of the Constitution).
Foreign trade policy of the Republic of Belarus is formed on the principles of openness of the economy; liberalization of foreign trade while the conditions determined by bilateral and multilateral agreements and international conventions in the sphere of trade economic cooperation, mutual protection of investments and avoidance of double taxation are observed.
Today the republic holds negotiations about the terms for entering the WTO and undertakes active steps to bring its legislation in accordance with the standards of this international organization. The Republic of Belarus has fully fulfilled the Plan of Law-Making Activities approved by the Decision of the Government in 2002 and submitted to the member-states. The most important element of the Plan’s realization was the adoption of a new Law of the Republic of Belarus “On State Regulation of Foreign Trade” that entered into force on June 15, 2005. The Law provides that all law-making activity from that time is based on WTO requirements.
The Law determines legal basis of state regulation of foreign trade, rights and duties of state bodies of the Republic of Belarus in the sphere of foreign trade with a view to facilitate the development of national economy and provide favorable conditions for foreign trade. The Law applies to the relations in the sphere of state regulation of foreign trade, as well as the relations directly connected with such an activity.
The state regulation of foreign trade is carried out through:
- Customs tariff regulation;
- Non-tariff regulation;
- Bans and limitations of foreign trade of services and intellectual property objects;
- Economic and administrative measures that contribute to the development of foreign trade.
Foreign trade of certain goods in accordance with legislation of the Republic of Belarus is licensed.
Licensing of foreign trade of certain goods is established:
- when temporal quantity limits of foreign trade of the goods are introduced;
- under the grounds provided by item 1 article 24 of the Law (national interest) with a view to establish a permit procedure for export and (or) import of the goods;
- with a view the Republic of Belarus to fulfill its international obligations.
When importing some kinds of goods, relevant permits or certificates confirming the compliance of the mentioned goods with safety, quality, sanitary and hygiene standards are required.
The legal basis for economic relations are laid down in the Civil Code of the Republic of Belarus, Investment Code of the Republic of Belarus and the number of other laws regulating economic activity.
The Law of the Republic of Belarus of July 1, 2010 “On Support of Small and Middle Entrepreneurship in the Republic of Belarus” determines legal and economic basis for small and middle entrepreneurship, general provisions for organizing such activity, regulates the procedure for registration and termination of activity, rights, duties and liability of entrepreneurship entities and establishes the measures of state protection, support and regulation of entrepreneurship in the Republic of Belarus.
The Law of the Republic of Belarus of December 10, 1992 “On Counteraction to Monopolistic Activity and Development of Competition” establishes organizational and legal framework to prevent, restrict and suppress monopolistic activity and provide conditions for development of fair competition, efficient commodity markets and protection of consumers’ rights. . The Law of the Republic of Belarus of July 18, 2000 “On Economic Insolvency (Bankruptcy)” sets up the grounds for recognizing a debtor bankrupt by the economic court or the grounds for announcing the debtor bankrupt, regulates the procedure and conditions for holding bankrupt case proceedings, undertaking measures to prevent the bankruptcy and other relations arising when the debtor is insolvent, with a view to hold its readjustment, and if it is impossible to hold the readjustment or there are no grounds to hold it – the process of liquidation of the debtor that is a legal person, or termination of activity of the debtor if it is an individual entrepreneur and the process of freeing him from the debts.