22 January 2018, Monday, 3:04

Belarus to restrict trade with Ukraine selectively


After Ukraine’s signing the economic part of the Association Agreement with the EU, Belarus is to adopt a decision on imposing protective measures against Ukrainian goods independently.

The decision on imposing such measures has not been passed at the session of the Council of the Eurasian Economic Commission (EEC).

As charter97.org website was told by the deputy head of the press-service of the Eurasian Economic Commission Oleg Gorbatov, the issue of joint imposing import duties against Ukrainian goods had been discussed at the session of the EEC Council.

“Let me explain in a few words. The situation is extremely simple. Ukraine is neither a member of the Customs Union, nor a member of the future Eurasian Union. And consequently, everything that concerns Ukraine, is a domain of concrete countries and their mutual relations. These are the affairs of Belarus and Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Ukraine. This all is an experience of bilateral relations with the third country, which is not a member of the Customs Union. We simply cannot comment on this issue physically, as it is not ours. It is a question within the scope of the Belarusian government, and you should address questions to them,” the representative of the EEC said.

“The only thing I can say is that joint imposing of import duties against Ukrainian goods had been discussed at the EEC Council. But before that the first Vice Prime Minister of Russia Igor Shuvalov stated absolutely clearly that it was bearing no relationship to the Eurasian Union and activities of the Eurasian Economic Commission. This issue is to be discussed by the government of the Russian Federation: what will happen, which measures are to be applied. The decision is not to be adopted at the level of the three countries,” Oleg Gorbatov stressed.

The press-service of the Belarusian government does not comment in any way the denial of imposing common duties on Ukrainian goods together with Russia and Kazakhstan.

We remind that on June 23 the first Vice Prime Minister of Russia Igor Shuvalov stated that after the denial of Belarus and Kazakhstan to impose duties on Ukrainian goods jointly, the government of Russia receives an opportunity to use measures of customs tariff regulation independently.

In its turn, in May on a unilateral basis Belarus imposed licencing of imported goods imported outside the Customs Union. The restrictions touched upon Ukrainian goods (confectionary, beer).

As charter97.org was told by a Belarusian expert Leanid Zlotnikau, Russia can respond to the decision of Belarus not to take part in the common imposing of protective measures.

“There could be a reaction on the political level. For instance, Russia is in no hurry to give $2 bn loan, though it was promised back in the end of the last year,” the expert stated.

“Belarus won’t cancel the licences for beer and confectionary which already exist. As for beer, these are affairs between Belarus and Ukraine. Our beer lost in competition to the Ukrainian beer. Ukrainian beer is cheaper and of higher quality. It was selling well in our country. So this restriction was related to boosting the coffers thanks to home manufacturing. Russia has nothing to do with that. The same concerns confectionary. Russia is unlikely to nit-pick there, and order to block sweets. In this way Belarus was solving its problems,” Leanid Zaika believes.

“Now the situation in the economy is extremely difficult. It seems to me that the government does not know what to do, where to find foreign currency. If there would be no such necessary inflow of currency into the country, new restrictions in the trade between Ukraine and Belarus are to emerge. The situation is unstable. But it seems to me that there would be no sweeping restrictions. Our export to Ukraine remains the same, and we need to buy many things in Ukraine too: oil cakes, vegetable oils, grain, rolled metal products. But the volume of trade is not so high now to influence the economic situation in the country considerably,” the expert said.

“After signing the Agreement between the EU and Ukraine something may change. But time should pass, as at the first stages agreement is signed on political questions, and there is still time left for export and import issues,” the Belarusian expert believes.

On Friday, June 27, Ukraine plans to sign the economic part of the EU's Association Agreement, which includes joining the Free Trade Area of the EU.