Updated at 17:46,10-07-2018

Leanid Zaika: Small business under threat of driving out of Belarusian market


Small businessmen who want to continue their business in the Customs Union will have to radically change the form of work.

This statement was made by economist Leanid Zaika on July 15 in Minsk during a round table discussion on the problems of small and medium-sized business, BelaPAN news agency reports.

The event gathered leaders of sole traders from Minsk and smaller towns, in particular Iryna Yaskevich (Vitebsk), the head of the organising committee to found the trade union of small businessmen Vmeste, and chairman of the coordination council of small businessmen of Minsk Ales Makaeu.

Participants of the discussion exchanged their views on the problems of small businessmen in the context of the entry into force of the Customs Union's technical regulations "On safety of light industry goods" on July 1. The document provoked discontent among sole traders and led to strikes at markets and in shopping centres in late June – early July.

According to Zaika, it would be senseless if small and medium businessmen continued to "work as sole traders in the nearest 20 years". He thinks the problems with the technical regulations are a signal for small businessman "to change the form, the strategy and the direction of their work". "Everything connected to markets, kiosks, booths and metal boxes is a dead end," the economist said to businessmen.

Zaika recommends small businessmen to create the trading infrastructure development programmes in small towns. "You must build new shopping centres and use them," he said. "Don't trade in your metal booths. You should propose to create a new system of trading and social infrastructure and service sector. At the same time, you need to create your own trade networks and groups if you want to survive."

The economist stresses that Belarusian small business may be driven out of the market by bigger players if businessmen don't follow the recommendations.

Zaika thinks that sole traders mustn't blame technical regulations for their problems, because such documents "are an absolutely normal thing to protect consumers and offer them safe and high-quality goods". He gave an example of the European Union, which technical regulations "are almost identical to those of the CIS".

"But the EU has standards. The process of adopting regulations is a machine that has been working for a long time. Its main principle is to create the best conditions for consumers. The events in Belarus must be regarded as the attitude of the authorities towards property and business. It must be the duty of manufacturers or at least wholesale companies to issue certificates and other documents proving the quality of goods. Officials of Belarus and the Customs Union can be blamed for their inability to organise this process," the economist summed up.