The controlling stake of Belaruskali will not be sold
The Belarusian authorities are unwilling to sell the controlling stake of Belaruskali, since the company is one of the major exporters and donors to the state budget. However, foreign investors, Indian and Russian in particular, are extremely interested in acquiring the controlling stake. They do not consider the option of participating as a minority shareholders. Therefore, taking into account the existing conflict of interests, we can assume that the shares of \"Belaruskali\" will not be sold in the coming years.
Vladimir Semashko also pointed out that Belaruskali would prematurely repay a syndicated loan of USD 1 billion, issued by the Sberbank Savings bank of Russia and the Eurasian Development Bank. The contract provides for the right to prepay the loan, and Belarus will do this as the credit conditions deteriorate in the second half of the year due to the growth of interest rates.
According to First Deputy Prime Minister, Belaruskali will repay the loan through its own funds, although earlier the loan of USD 800 million was rendered to the gold and foreign currency reserves of Belarus. Semashko explained his position by saying that in 2011 Belaruskali received foreign exchange earnings from exports of fertilizers in the amount of USD 3.2 billion. He also pointed out that if necessary the Belarusian company is able to receive a loan on more favorable terms.
According to the National Statistics Committee, the production of potash fertilizers in Belarus in January-April 2012 decreased compared to the same period in the previous year by 13.5% to 1.669 million tons. In monetary value, the exports of potash fertilizers in the first quarter of 2012 fell by 32.4% to USD 519,992 million.
The main consumers of Belarusian potash fertilizers in the first quarter of 2012 were: Brazil – USD 140.099 million (26.9% of total exports), Malaysia – USD 42.163 million (8.1%), Norway - USD 38.808 million, (7.5%), Poland - USD 37.801 million (7.3%), Vietnam – USD 36.374 million (7%), Venezuela – USD 4.554 million (6.6%), India – USD 33.301 million (6.4%), Belgium – USD 8.101 million (3.5%), Indonesia – USD 16.63 million (3.2%), Croatia – USD 14,533 million (2.8%), Ukraine – USD 14.51 million (2.8%), Russia – USD 1.488 million (0.3%), Thailand – USD 0.943 million (0.2%) and Colombia – USD 0.359 million (0.1%). There were no deliveries of potash fertilizers to China or Bangladesh in the period under consideration.
Vladimir Semashko also informed that in 2013 Belarus would begin construction of a new plant producing nitrogen fertilizers on the basis of Grodno Azot. The investment will amount to USD 1.1 billion. Currently, they are looking for investors who would provide a long-term tied loan to implement this project.
According to Semashko, many foreign investors have shown interest in Grodno Azot, negotiations are underway, but there have been no decisions yet. Therefore, the modernization at Grodno Azot continues, but it lacks investors or partners, said First Deputy Prime Minister.
Other investment projects include the construction of a third refinery on the basis of a state-owned enterprise \"Novopolotsk plant of protein and vitamin concentrates.\" The project investor is a private Belarusian oil trader LTD \"Interservice\" (the company was founded by an influential businessman, Nicholai Vorobei). The expected capacity of the new oil and hydrocarbon materials refinery is about 1.5 million tons per year. The cost of the investment project is $ 270 million; it is due to be implemented by January 1, 2021.
Over the past year, military-political relations between Minsk and Kyiv have become complicated. Due to their high inertia and peculiarities, this downward trend would be extremely difficult to overcome.
The root cause of the crisis is the absence of a common political agenda in the Belarusian-Ukrainian relations. Minsk is looking for a market for Belarusian exports in Ukraine and offers its services as a negotiation platform for the settlement of the Russo-Ukrainian war, thereby hoping to avoid political issues in the dialogue with Kiev. Meanwhile, Ukraine is hoping for political support from Minsk in the confrontation with Moscow. In addition, Ukraine’s integration with NATO presupposes her common position with the Alliance in relation to Belarus. The NATO leadership regards the Belarusian Armed Forces as an integral part of the Russian military machine in the western strategic front (the Baltic states and Poland). In addition, the ongoing military reform in Ukraine envisages a reduction in the number of generals and the domestic political struggle makes some Ukrainian top military leaders targets in politically motivated attacks.
Hence, the criticism of Belarus coming from Ukrainian military leadership is dictated primarily by internal and external political considerations, as well as by the need to protect the interests of generals, and only then by facts.
For instance, initially, the Ukrainian military leadership made statements about 100,000 Russian servicemen allegedly taking part in the Russo-Belarusian military drill West-2017. Then the exercises were labelled quazi-open and military observers from Ukraine refused to provide their assessment, which caused a negative reaction in Minsk. Further, without citing specific facts, it was stated that Russia was building up its military presence in Belarus.
Apparently, the Belarusian and Ukrainian Defence Ministries have entangled in a confrontational spiral (on the level of rhetoric). Moreover, only a small part of the overly hidden process has been disclosed. That said, third states are very likely to take advantage of the situation (or have already done so). This is not only about Russia.
The Belarusian Defence Ministry officials are restrained in assessing their Ukrainian counterparts. However, such a restraint is not enough. Current military-political relations between Belarus and Ukraine are unlikely to stabilise without the intervention of both presidents.