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RussiaDenies Ordering Curbs On Belarus Commodities

Russian Ministry Denies Ordering Curbs On Belarusian Commodities
Kommersant, Prime-Tass
The Russian Economic Development Ministry has denied the charge that it had secretly ordered Russian regional authorities to reduce imports from Belarus over alleged restrictions on Russian exports in the Belarusian market, Belapan reported on October 16, quoting the ministry's press service.
Russian State Duma Deputy Anatoly Lokot claimed last week that such an order had been made in a confidential letter signed by Russian Deputy Economic Development and Trade Minister Andrey Sharonov. An official from the Belarusian Economy Ministry also confirmed to Belapan that Russia was not restricting Belarusian imports.
Deputy Economic Development and Trade Minister Andrey Sharonov provided his comment regarding the alleged letter that recommends limiting imports from Belarus in the State Duma on Wednesday.
He said the recommendations only applied to the purchases financed from the federal budget and only to the commodities analogous to Russian goods, "State purchases in Belarus discriminate products from Russia. There is a ban on purchases of Russian goods from the Russian budget. The ban applies to a wide range of foods and farm machines. The Russian ministry issued a decision to restrict imports from Belarus as retaliation. No other restrictions are planned," Sharonov said.
Nevertheless, Andrey Sharonov said this proposal does not mean an unofficial trade embargo. "There are no curbs," the minister said. "Any person is free to buy what they have been buying - and in any amounts. We are going to make a decision on limiting state orders of those Belarusian goods that are not unique for some of our recipients." Belarusian press mentions curtailing imports of such goods as furniture, sanitary engineering, ceramic tiles, meat products, vegetables and synthetic cleansers.
This restriction may be imposed by the law on state purchases, which says foreign companies may bid on supplies to Russia on the same terms as domestic suppliers unless their countries impose restrictions regarding Russian goods.
The Economic Development Ministry posted an official statement on its web-site with explanations following Andrey Sharonov's speech at the Duma. A new law came into force this January determining rules of state purchases and describing the so-called national regime for some foreign companies which could get access to state orders on the same conditions as Russian producers. "However, this regime is based on mutual terms only," the statement says. The ministry does not mention if analysis of terms of access to state purchases has been conducted in other countries. But as far as Belarus goes, there have been "terms which limit the access of Russian producers to tenders and create unequal conditions" in the tenders' procedures.
The copy of the letter posted on the website of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation proves the original letter was sent on July 14, 2006. Since then Belarus has taken steps to equalize state purchasing conditions for Belarusian and Russian goods.
Belarus started applying the preferential mode of state purchases [including purchases financed from transport fees] to Russian buses.
Besides, the government signed resolution #1127 on September 4, 2006 to apply the preferential mode of state purchases [public procurement tenders] to Russian commodities. Earlier, only domestic products enjoyed the preferences. Russian commodities used to be considered foreign goods in Belarus, which is why the price offered by Russian bidders was automatically increased by 25%. The resolution will remain effective until the end of the year.
Curbs of the Economic Development Ministry will damage not only Belarusian firms but Russian companies as well. Belarusian goods from the list of Russian state purchases are normally imported by Russian traders. Only large Belarusian companies export goods on their own, but their products are not on the Russian ministry's list.


 

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