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Belarus may introduce long-term startup visas

While Belarus' neighbors from the Baltic countries are introducing start-up visas, involving Belarusian programmers and start-ups with access to the EU market, the draft decree on Belarus Hi-Tech Park aims to create what could become "IT Hong Kong for the Slavic world".

The draft decree (read its key points here) gives chances to create comfortable conditions not only for Belarusian IT engineers, but also for the mass arrival of Russian and Ukrainian companies.

One of the necessary conditions for this is to simplify the procedure for obtaining a residence permit by qualified foreign IT specialists, and introduce long-term start-up visas.

This is what the draft decree promises.

Social networks in Russia and Ukraine are already actively discussing the possibility of transferring their IT business to Belarus.

Decree stimulates breakthrough in IT education

Attempts to build an IT country are doomed to failure without a thoughtful system of training. The decree creates conditions for the development of educational activities in the field of information technology. Educational activities can be carried out within the framework of the activities of HTP residents, including in English.

Functions of the Ministry of Education in the IT sphere are transferred to the HTP administration.

Maybe this means more practical approach to IT eduation. It's no secret that universities all over the world may still teach you some Stone Age programming language, while the whole world has already switched to much more modern technologies.

The decree provides that the HTP will send a significant portion of residents' contributions to the development of IT education in universities and schools.

The world is restricting ICOs, but not Belarus?

If the initiatives of the HTP decree 2.0 are adopted without significant changes, then this will truly become a revolution in Belarus IT and business. Why? Because no other counties in the whole world offer such conditions for IT businesses! On the contrary, we could talk about a tendency to tighten regulation of IT-related activities with the help of already known institutions. 

For example, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has recently decided that transactions with security tokens should be registered as ordinary transactions with securities. Participants in unregistered transactions will be liable for violating securities laws, and exchanges trading in such assets must also be officially registered (as usual exchanges). China has declared ICOs completely illegal.

However, it is clear that the ICO tool would not have become so popular today, if it were convenient for companies to use the classic IPO tool. This is the trend the SEC tried to curb actually forcing companies and investors in the US to equalize the ICO and IPO in terms of transaction conditions. This defeats the whole purpose of ICOs - a quick and simple attraction of financing, which is not regulated in a special way. Undoubtedly, this is a high-risk activity, but it can also bring you high incomes in the future.

ICO is not regulated by the Belarusian legislation. The draft decree on HTP 2.0 includes provisions on the right of HTP residents to issue crypto-currencies, which de facto made the ICO legal.

Taking into account the fact that the Belarus Hi-Tech Park regime is already attractive enough for a large number of IT companies, it is expected that new benefits will significantly increase the number of residents of the Park. One of the recent cases is the US company MapBox, which is going to become a Belarus HTP resident.

MORE: MapBox buys Belarus' MapData, opening R&D center in Minsk

Photo: Dispatches Europe

Belarus may introduce long-term startup visas