At the end of 2017, Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko signed a decree aimed at developing the country’s IT sector and attracting blockchain technology companies, capital and talent from all over the world. Decree legalize cryptocurrencies, initial coin offerings (ICOs), and smart contracts. All crypto transactions and related income, including from mining, will be tax-free for the next five years.
“Belarus becomes the first state in the world which opens up broad opportunities for the use of the blockchain technology,” said Lukashenko. “We have all opportunities to become a regional center of competence in this field.”
According to the Belarus News Agency, the new ordinance gives “a serious competitive edge” to the country in the creation of a 21st-century digital economy. It provides friendly conditions and simplified regulations for resident companies of the Hi-Tech Park (HTP). Belarus has been promoting its High Technologies Park, a special economic zone with a special tax and legal regime, contributing to the favorable and successful development of IT business in the country. Belarus has also allowed IT specialists to stay in the country without a visa for 180 days.
In particular, Belarus wants to offer comprehensive regulations for business based on blockchain technology at the national level. Decree is expected to come into force in March 2018, three months after its publication.
Legalizing Crypto Transactions and ICOs
President Alexander Lukashenko explained, “the main goal of the document is to create such conditions that global IT companies would come to Belarus, open their representative offices, development centers, and create popular products in the world.”
Reuters wrote: “Belarus has legalized transactions in cryptocurrencies and part of a drive is to foster private sector growth and attract foreign investment by liberalizing parts of its Soviet-style economy. The decree legalizes initial coin offerings and transactions in cryptocurrencies, including their exchange for traditional currencies on Belarussian exchanges. All trades will be tax-free for the next five years.“
“The decree is a breakthrough for Belarus,” Anton Myakishev, the head of Microsoft’s Belarus office, told Reuters. “It gives the industry the possibility to make a leap forward in its development and allows foreign capital the possibility to come to Belarus and work in comfortable conditions.”
It seems plausible, in fact, that if even a few countries introduce crypto-friendly regulations that allow businesses to do things they couldn’t do at home, the world’s most innovative companies would move to those countries. This could force other countries to adopt crypto-friendly regulations themselves, creating a powerful domino effect.