Russo-Belarusian gas and oil dispute unlikely to end soon
In December 2016, Belarus made an advance payment in repayment of the debt for natural gas supplies in 2016. The debt emerged because Belarus paid a lower price for the natural gas supply as compared with the contract price (USD 136.9 per 1000 cubic metres). In response, Russia unilaterally cut oil supplies as of July 2016, from 2 to 1.2 million tons of oil per month. Nevertheless, Russia is unlikely to resume oil supplies in full volume before the end of 2016. Belarus is unable to repay the debt for gas in full without additional borrowing. In order to solve the problem, the Finance Ministry and the National Bank are likely to issue foreign currency bonds worth at least USD 350 million.
According to Decree No. 221 of June 23rd, 2017, deadlines for the completion of foreign trade operations have been extended from 90 to 180 days for exports and from 60 to 90 days for imports. Delayed payments entailed a fine up to 2% of the transaction cost for each day of the delay, but could not exceed the total cost of the transaction. Most companies, when working with new counterparties, require a deferred payment for a period of three to six months. Due to the new regulation, violations are likely to reduce in number, so as the fines. Trade enterprises are likely to expand the assortment list due to the supply of new products in small lots, and the assortment list of exported Belarusian goods could expand, too. The new terms for completing foreign trade transactions would enable medium and small companies on the foreign trade market, exporters and importers are likely to grow in number and the geography of export-import operations could expand.