Belarus reduces potash production
Potash fertilizer’s exports to foreign markets have reduced for objective reasons. The usual administrative levers used by the Belarusian leadership in a crisis, are useless in this case. Potash fertilizer’s production has to be cut down for the sake of potassium chloride export prices.
On December 7th, a governmental meeting about potash fertilizers’ exports took place.
In 2012 one of the main Belarusian exports, potassium chloride, may be in trouble. Potash production in January-October 2012 decreased by 6.8% compared with 2011. The projected foreign-currency proceeds at USD 3.2 billion by the year-end will not be met due to the lack of contracts with China.
There are few players at the global potash market. In order to maintain potassium chloride export prices, potash producers are prepared to cut production and to reduce exports.
In January – September 2012 exports of Belarusian potash fertilizers have been reduced in physical terms by 17.8%, while in value terms, exports fell by 14.3% over the same period in 2011. Potassium chloride price was maintained and even increased by a significant reduction in the supply volume.
Belaruskali’s partner in Belarusian Potash Company (BPC is the monopoly trader of Belarusian and Russian fertilizer producers in the world market), Uralkali, in December 2012-April 2013, will reduce the potash fertilizers’ production in order to bring the Chinese stocks down to 2 million tones. That would be the starting point for a new round of negotiations about the potash fertilizers supply to the market. The production volumes could be recovered, but not until May 2013.
Belaruskali’s performance in 2012, the global economic situation, plans of Belaruskali’s business partners, and no high-profile personnel changes in the Belaruskali’s management may imply the following. The Belarusian government, despite the need for foreign-currency proceeds and habitual adherence to administrative management style, now has to adjust to the situation and agree to a reduced production of potash fertilizers along the same lines as BPC’s partner (volume and timeframe), for the sake of maintaining the price at the current level. An alternative would be to reduce the contract price, which is unacceptable not only for the Russian partners, but also for the main market exporters.
The Belarusian authorities have launched a discussion on the moratorium or abolition of the death penalty under the pressure of Belarusian human rights activists and international community. Apparently, the authorities are interested in monitoring public sentiments and response to the possible abolition of the capital punishment. The introduction of a moratorium on the death penalty would depend on the dynamics in Belarusian-European relations, efforts of the civil society organisations and Western capitals.
In Grodno last week, the possibility of abolishing the death penalty in Belarus or introducing a moratorium was discussed.
The Belarusian authorities are likely to continue to support the death penalty in Belarus. During his rule, President Lukashenka pardoned only one person, and courts sentenced to death more than 400 people since the early 1990s. Over the past year, Belarusian courts sentenced to death several persons and one person was executed.
There are no recent independent polls about people’s attitude about the death penalty in Belarus. Apparently, this issue is not a priority for the population. In many ways, public opinion about the abolition of the death penalty would depend on the tone of the state-owned media reports.
That said, the Belarusian Orthodox Church and the Roman-Catholic Church stand for the abolition of the capital punishment, however their efforts in this regard only limit to public statements about their stance. Simultaneously, the authorities could have influenced public opinion about the death penalty through a focused media campaign in the state media. As they did, for example, with the nuclear power plant construction in Astravets. Initially unpopular project of the NPP construction was broadly promoted in the state media, and eventually, according to independent pollsters, was accepted by most population.