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High-level round table on the investment climate of Belarus

On 14 December 2017 in Minsk, Belarus, the Energy Charter Secretariat and the Ministry of Energy co-organised a high-level roundtable on investment in the energy sector of Belarus. The purpose of the event was to discuss ways to improve the investment climate of the country in order to increase the inflow of investment in the country’s energy sector as a whole. Overall, more than 25 representatives from government institutions, the energy industry, the business community and international organisations participated, offering their insights on the ways forward.

The Energy Charter Secretariat presented a tailored assessment of the policy, legal and regulatory risks that may deter investments in the energy sector of Belarus. According to the Energy Charter Secretary General, Dr. Urban Rusnák,  Belarus provides a moderate policy, legal and regulatory environment for investment in the energy sector. The extensive country risk profile which was discussed during the high-level roundtable is based on the methodology developed under the Energy Charter Secretariat’s initiative called the Energy Investment Risk Assessment (EIRA). 

Senior Investment Expert, David Kramer presented the assessment findings of Belarus’s energy sector: “Belarus performs relatively well on the management of policy-making processes and has low restrictions on foreign direct investment, but the country scores average or below average on all other indicators for the risk assessment, including robustness of policy goals, confidence in their implementation, institutional governance, effective oversight of market functioning, and keeping to national and international obligations. Given these moderate scores, most improvements should be made in the implementation of policy goals and the regulatory setup. In particular coordination and transparency of the law making processes and  timely and inclusive involvement of stakeholders deserve attention. Finally, Belarus should reconsider ratifying the Energy Charter Treaty, which is now applied provisionally, and make better use of amicable dispute settlement mechanisms, including for instance  mediation and the establishment of an investment ombudsman.”

On the basis of this assessment the  Energy Charter Secretariat made recommendations for further improvement of Belarus’s investment climate. These recommendations include (1) setting up a permanent inter-ministerial body to better coordinate policy-making that pertains to energy investments, (2) establishing a permanent forum or mechanism for effective consultation with investors, (3) reinforcement of the independence and transparency of the regulatory body and (4) establishing an ombudsman and mediation practices to prevent and resolve potential disputes or grievances involving foreign investors.

Deputy Minister of Energy Mr Vadim Zakrevsky embraced the outcomes of the discussion and concluded that implementation of the recommendations and conclusions is to be considered for the EU4Energy 2018 Work Programme.