22 January 2018, Monday, 21:28

Leanid Zlotnikau: Lukashenka doesn’t hesitate to ban Ukrainian goods


The authorities are looking for any opportunity to boost the coffers of the budget and started with the ban of Ukrainian beer.

An economist Leanid Zlotnikau has commented to charter97.org website on the ban on imports of Ukrainian beer to Belarus.

- What do you think about the ban on Ukrainian beer? Was the denial to issue licenses really related to impossibility to agree upon import prices?

- Recently we are witnessing many attempts to ban imports of beer from abroad, but as long as we are in the same Customs Union with Russian beer, and also in some common economic space, it is hard to do. Russia will exert great pressure. And it is only fitting to ban Ukrainian beer.

- It’s only fitting? What do you mean?

- I mean that if Russian beer is banned – there could be a major row. Russia can impose sanctions in response, and Lukashenka depends on the Kremlin. As for Ukraine, what can they counter Belarus with? It is simply easier to ban Ukrainian beer. So that is why it has been excluded.

When Ukraine gets a little stronger, it could stop buying some Belarusian goods as well. Our turnover is not so high, but not so low either: in general, these are our oil products deliveries. And Ukrainians need them, as their plants are not modernized.

I think that Ukrainian beer is not worse than Belarusian one, personally I prefer to drink Ukrainian beer. And quality probably does not matter here, what matters is that the Belarusian government needs money. Excise tax on beer is high, and the Belarusian budget is interested in receiving as much revenue from beer as possible. That’s all. This is the main reason.

In the case of Ukrainian beer they have their excises, they are lower, so it is cheaper. It is more profitable to sell only Belarusian beer. Moreover, we have several state-owned breweries which do not want competitiveness.

It’s in the authorities’ interest to collect more taxes and support their state breweries.

- But if it is one’s local market protection, why it is tackles at this particular moment?

- This issue had been discussed for a long time: imported beer deliveries should be restricted. One of the officials told Lukashenka at one of the consultations: “Manufacture of beer is loss-making, as excises are too high, and as long as excise taxes for foreign beer are lower, it happens that foreign beer is cheaper.”

And Lukashenka always lacks money in public treasury, and thinks: where to find them? Officials are always scratching their heads trying to invent something. So they decided they can earn thanks to beer.

Excises imposed on our beer are so high that it has lost its competitive power at Belarusian market, and breweries have become loss-making. But instead of decreasing excises for Belarusian manufacturers, they decided to impose ban on imported beer for the period of the Ice Hockey World Championship, and then Ukrainian beer was expelled from shops completely.

What could Belarusians do? They have to buy more expensive Belarusian beer. As a result, we pay more than usual for the goods which have lower quality.