Great Stone Industrial Park exemplar of China-Belarus friendly cooperation

Updated: December 19, 2022 Source: China Merchants Group
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The Great Stone Industrial Park is located on the outskirts of Minsk, capital of Belarus, and covers a total area of 91.5 square kilometers. As a key cooperation project between China and Belarus under the Belt and Road Initiative, it is a China-participated overseas economic and trade cooperation zone with a large development and construction scale, as well as high level of cooperation.

From great hardship to high-quality development

In October 2010, China and Belarus signed a cooperation agreement on the Establishment of a China-Belarus Industrial Park in Belarus. President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko named it the Great Stone Industrial Park, hoping to build it into a symbol of friendship between China and Belarus and for Belarus to enhance its comprehensive strength. In 2013, the overall planning for the park was established. In the summer of 2014, the foundation stone for the park was laid amid the expectations and aspirations from all parties.

At the end of 2014, with support from China’s Ministry of Commerce and the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission, the Ministry of Economy of the Republic of Belarus held investment attraction event for the Great Stone Industrial Park in Beijing, hoping to introduce competitive central enterprises in China for investment. It is expected that China Merchants Group (CMG) should give full play to the comprehensive advantages of the park and support the development of the Great Stone Industrial Park project. In May 2015, CMG officially became a shareholder of the Great Stone Industrial Park, which marked the acceleration of the park's construction.

Construction of the park shows the "speed of China"

At the end of 2015, CMG's China-Belarus Commerce and Logistics Park, the first project settling in the park with a total investment of 150 million U.S. dollars, saw the start of its construction. It is also a logistics enterprise project funded by CMG alone in the Great Stone Industrial Park.

The park has overcome many difficulties and promoted the construction of various infrastructure and facilities. By the end of 2016, "seven accesses and site leveling" were done and supporting municipal facilities were built in the pioneering zone with an area of 3.5 square kilometers. The park started to take shape with the construction of office buildings, standard workshops and warehouse center completed. By of the end of 2021, nine standard workshops with a total area of 84,753 square meters had been built in the park, and an area of 5,500 square meters under construction. An actual investment of 349 million U.S. dollars by enterprises in the park was made, with 136 million U.S. dollars for CMG's Commerce and Logistics Park. The warehouse center with an area of 71,000 square meters, the logistics transaction exhibition center with 21,000 square meters, and the business center with 6,500 square meters have been built and put into operation. In the past five years, the Chinese government has invested 400 million yuan to build a 110kV power station, the Usha River sewage treatment renovation project, the first residential building with 156 apartments, and a 19,000-square-meter scientific and technological achievements transformation center in the park, all of which have been put into operation.

Create advantages to attract investment

Belarus established a park management committee by promulgating laws and administrative orders when the park was built. Chinese enterprise with 68 percent of the shares established a development company for operation and management of the park with Belarusian partners. Since CMG acquired shares in the development company in May 2015, it has dispatched a professional management team and personnel to the park, given full play to the advantages of the park in development and management, and established a complete set of management systems regarding development and planning, engineering construction, investment and financing management, investment promotion, and investor services, and basically satisfied the needs for the development and operation of the park.

The Great Stone Industrial Park is positioned by Belarus as a high-tech industrial park. The park management committee has set a scope of industries for enterprises to settle in the park, making sure of their scientific and technological edges. The high-tech industries are mostly filled with technology-intensive and capital-intensive enterprises. It was difficult to reach a certain scale or attract talents when the park was first established. About the positioning, China and Belarus have jointly sorted out 47 industries that Belarus urgently needs and see the greatest potential for cooperation in 7 categories. On that basis, relevant departments have optimized the international investment promotion strategies, stepped up their efforts to advertise in a more targeted manner, by dint of such major platforms as China International Import Expo in particular, and thus eliminated the information asymmetry because the enterprises were ill-informed in general. In 2019, the Industrial Park greeted 497 investment promotion delegations with 3,547 people (including 297 delegations and 2,117 people from China), and organized and participated in 99 project promotion fairs.

At the end of 2016, there were only 8 enterprises in the Great Stone Industrial Park, which indicated enormous pressure on investment attracting. The operation team has vigorously introduced Chinese and Belarusian enterprises into the park based on cooperation and to complement each other's advantages and jointly tap the third-country market. For example, Weichai Power and MAZ in Belarus have worked together to manufacture high-powered diesel engines in the park. In less than 8 months, a modern production line with a maximum annual output of 30,000 engines was officially put into operation. The State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of China has also increased its support for central enterprises to settle in the park. A number of enterprises such as China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, the Aviation Industry Corporation of China, China Electronics Technology Group Corporation and CITIC Heavy Industries have settled in the park.

In 2017, the park became increasingly popular. In this year alone, 15 companies signed the agreement on settling. The park received 387 delegations in 2018, of which there were more delegations from Belarus and other countries besides China. In the same year, 19 companies signed the agreement.

Today, the Great Stone Industrial Park has become a large-scale, high-tech industrial park covering machinery and equipment, electronic communications, new materials, new energy, biomedicine, financial services and other fields. Under the new situation, the Great Stone Industrial Park will explore opportunities from emerging industries, expand the innovative sectors such as e-commerce, big data, and raw material trade in a pragmatic manner, and bring forth new ideas for joint development where "exhibitions are promoted through trade, sales promoted through exhibitions, and production promoted through sales". Up to mid-November 2022, among the 99 enterprises in the Great Stone Industrial Park, there are 49 Chinese-funded enterprises, 31 Belarus-funded enterprises and 19 venture enterprises funded by other countries, with a total agreed investment of 1.306 billion U.S. dollars.

Editor: Yu Huichen