Belarus Got Into Energy Trap

The issue of oil customs duties has been left outside the framework of the Customs Union, and Belarusian authorities have finally surrendered to Moscow.

After many hours of talks the commission of the Customs Union has at last agreed upon the text of the Customs Code for Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus, which is to come in force since July 1, Russian newspaper “Kommersant” informs.

The issue of oil export duties of Russia won’t be discussed in the framework of the Customs Union. It is decided to include these questions in agreements on creation of a single economic space, which is to start work not until 2012, or maybe never.

But the issue of distribution of duties from import Russia has made certain concessions to Belarus; it has been decided to recalculate its share in the union’s benefits.

The session lasted for about 6 hours and was held in a rather nervous manner. No official reports have been made summing up its results.

Exact figures of payments’ distribution haven’t been named so far. At January’s session it was supposed that Russia to receive 86.5% of payments, Kazakhstan 8.5%, Belarus 5 %, but Belarusian authorities wanted to increase their share. According to “Kommersant”, finally Russia had to meet halfway.

It was supposed earlier that “weight” of a country in payments distribution would depend on foreign trade statistics of 2007-2008 only, but under the new decision statistics of 2009 is to be taken into account as well. At the session representatives of Belarus used not only statistic data of Russia and Belarus, but foreign trade statistics of the UN.

BelTA agency offers a statement of Vice Premier Andrei Kabyakou on the results of the session, that the Russian side listened to Belarusian and Kazakh’s sides’ positions in the issue of parts’ distribution in the issue of duties.

“The Belarusian side is in principle satisfied with this result,” Kabyakou said.

As written by “Kommersant”, both Kazakhstan and Belarus have agreed with Russia’s initiative: all “oil” issues, including oil duties, have been left outside the framework of the Customs Union, but put no the agenda of the agreements on the Single economic space.

As informed by “Nasha Niva”, officials in Belarus and Belarusian economists noted many times that Belarus has no benefits from participation in the Customs Union, if energy resources are excluded from it.

However official Minsk is unlikely to dare to escape from the customs’ trap. Belarusian authorities fear that Moscow can use the fact of Belarus’ leaving the customs agreement to impose export duties for gas, which Russian Finance Ministry had been seeking. And it would cause a growth of price for Russian gas, the main source of energy for Belarus.
Mass media monitoring