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Press Release- Embassy of Belarus : 10 June 2020

June 8, 2020

Belarus registers 49,453 coronavirus cases, 276 deaths as of Jun 8, 2020

MINSK, Jun 8 – PrimePress. Belarus registered 49,453 confirmed coronavirus cases as of June 8, 2020, 276 people died, the Health Ministry of Belarus reports on its official Telegram channel.

23,880 patients have recovered and have been discharged from hospitals.

As reported, the number of registered coronavirus cases in Belarus reached 48,630 a day before; 269 patients died.

The Health Ministry reports 633,600 tests for the coronavirus infection as of June 8, 2020. End

Hungarian Prime Minister Orban strives for lifting EU sanctions against Belarus

MINSK, Jun 8 – PrimePress. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban was on his first official visit to Belarus on June 5.

It is time for the European Union to lift sanctions against Belarus, he told reporters after a meeting with President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko. Orban said Hungary would insist on this in European negotiations, since, in his opinion, sanctions impede development of the Eastern Partnership.

Orban also supports Belarus’ accession to the World Trade Organization and Belarus’ cooperation with NATO.

Lukashenko stated interest in developing trade, economic and political relations with Hungary. He said the annual trade turnover of $255 million does not actualize the potential of the parties and should grow to €500 million in the coming years.

Lukashenko called Hungary the closest European partner of Belarus, which “understands us like no other and contributes to expansion our relations with the EU.”

Lukashenko said that both countries “faced absolutely unprecedented and arrogant attempts to impede the execution of the sovereign right to develop peaceful nuclear programs. (The project is underway in Hungary to build two new nuclear power units at the Paks NPP jointly with Russia.) He invited Hungary to share his “colossal experience in the joint construction of a nuclear power plant with the Russians.”

During the Orban’s visit, the parties signed a memorandum of cooperation between the Ministry of Energy of Belarus and the Office of the Prime Minister of Hungary in the electric energy industry. The Foreign Ministries of Belarus and Hungary signed a memorandum of cooperation in the field of diplomatic personnel training and exchange of information and documentation. The National Centre for Marketing and Price Study of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Belarus and the Hungarian Export Promotion Agency signed a memorandum of understanding.

A memorandum of understanding was signed by the Ministry of Agriculture and Food of Belarus and the Ministry of Agriculture of Hungary on cooperation in poultry breeding. Belarus plans to fully provide the domestic market with its own breed of world-class chicken and to develop goose breeding in the Gomel Oblast hit by the Chernobyl accident.

New Prime Minister of Belarus, Roman Golovchenko offered Hungary Belarus’ experience in designing and manufacture of electric vehicles.

As reported, in spring 2020, the European Union extended sanctions against Belarus for one year until February 28, 2021. Restrictive measures include an embargo on the supply of weapons and equipment that can be used for repression, freezing of assets and a ban on travel against a number of individuals, including those suspected of involvement in the forced disappearances of Belarusian opposition activists and journalists in 1999-2000. These sanctions have been extended annually. Belarus and the EU thus maintain economic cooperation. End

Belarus’ economy to begin recovering in 3Q20 – Ministry of Economy

MINSK, Jun 8 – PrimePress. The Belarusian economy will begin to recover in the third quarter of 2020, says Minister of Economy of Belarus Alexander Chervyakov.

“We are working on a package of measures to restore economic growth to the target set for 2020 [2.8% GDP growth]. It will be clear by the end of the year whether we will succeed,” Chervyakov said on Belarus-1 television channel.

He believes the chance is good, because Belarus did not shut enterprises down. Otherwise, “it would take years to recover.”

“Our research institute [Economy Research Institute of the Ministry of Economy of the Republic of Belarus] conducted a survey. Industry managers stated greater optimism: the index increased by 14 percentage points in May,” said Chervyakov.

According to the minister, agriculture, construction, IT and food processing industries are showing growth, and so does output of oil products and potash fertilizers. The effect of presidential decree No.143 on supporting the economy dated April 24, 2020 is already noticeable. “The cost of energy commodities has reduced by Br117 million ($49.14 million at the rate of the National Bank of Belarus). This is the money that does not need to be paid, in fact, a direct subsidy. We weekly monitor the situation in the regions jointly with business entities. A channel for direct communication was organized on the website of the Ministry of Economy,” Chervyakov said.

As reported, the decree provides deferments and installment plans for repaying tax credits, reduces the period for refunding the difference between tax deductions and the total amount of value added tax. Individual entrepreneurs, who have to suspend their businesses, are given the opportunity to switch to other taxation regimes and recalculate the single tax. The decree introduces rent holidays and a moratorium on increases in the base lease rate the rental charges. Local regulatory and executive bodies may reduce property taxes. Legal entities and individual entrepreneurs (property owners) are recommended granting lessees rent payment deferments and reducing rent payment amounts depending on the latter’s’ revenues. The Ministers of Health and Trade and the head of the State Committee for Standardization are given the right to suspend stores and catering facilities for up to 90 days for committed violations.

Chervyakov also reaffirmed the plan to achieve GDP growth to $100 billion by 2025. “This is not a mythical figure. It is the level that would ensure wages and incomes, maintain employment and reduce workforce migration. This remains a key task,” Chervyakov said.

As reported, President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko demanded in March 2018 that the government ensure national GDP growth to $100 billion by 2025. Belarus’ GDP totalled $54 billion in equivalent in 2019, $56 billion in 2018 and $50 billion in 2017. End

Gazprom not to reconsider gas price for Belarus in 2020

MINSK, Jun 8 – PrimePress. Russian Gazprom will not reconsider the gas price for Belarus set for 2020 and can start negotiations on gas supplies in 2021 under the current contract, saying that the price terms were agreed upon on February 14, 2020, says Russian gas monopolist Gazprom.

“Provided that Belarus fully complies with the agreements reached in 2020, Gazprom confirms its readiness to begin negotiations on the gas supply terms from January 1, 2021,” Gazprom says.

The Ministry of Energy of Belarus reported last week that it sent a letter to Gazprom, proposing new terms for 2020 and pricing methods that might be applied from January 1, 2021. The ministry also asked that Gazprom subsidiary, Gazprom Transgaz Belarus, provided a method for calculating the calorific value of gas supplied to Belarus, as the parties disagreed on this parameter.

Gazprom links gas talks with Belarus for the period from 2021 with the repayment of Belarus’ debt for gas, which is estimated at $165.6 million. The Ministry of Energy of Belarus says there is no such debt, but there is a disagreement between business entities on determining the cost of gas “taking into account its calorific value.”

Belarus’ import of Russian gas totals 20 billion cubic meters per year. Belarus remains the second largest consumer of Russian gas after Germany. In February 2020, Miller and Belarusian Ambassador to Russia Vladimir Semashko approved the pricing procedure for the supply of Russian gas to Belarus in 2020. The price for Belarus remained at $127 per 1,000 cubic meters, which is the same as in 2019. Belarus has been insisting that Russian gas for Minsk should equal Russia’s domestic prices, as provided for by the 2011 agreement on the sale of Beltransgaz gas transmission company to Gazprom.

Former Prime Minister of Belarus Rumas said on May 14 that Belarus would try to persuade Gazprom in the May 2020 negotiations that the price of Russian gas ($127 per 1,000 cubic meters) was excessive, given that the price on European spot markets was at $80. Lukashenko stated that under current conditions, the price of Russian gas for Belarus should be $40-45 per 1,000 cubic meters, which includes logistics costs. End

Belarus works on long-term oil supply contracts with Azerbaijan and Saudi Arabia – Belneftekhim

MINSK, Jun 8 – PrimePress. Belarusian oil traders are working on long-term contracts for the supply of oil from sources alternative to Russia, particularly from Azerbaijan and Saudi Arabia, says Ruslan Labut head of the Foreign Trade Department of the state petrochemical concern Belneftekhim.

“Energy security dictates strict rules, so Belarusian oil traders are working long-term contracts. It is clear today that alternative supplies are needed on a permanent basis. Furthermore, a phased annual increase in the volumes of oil is planned against the backdrop of the Russian tax manoeuvre,” Labut says.

According to Labut, each refinery (Mozyr Oil Refinery OJSC, Gomel Oblast, and Naftan OJSC, Novopolotsk, Vitebsk Oblast) have their own strategies. Their laboratories analyze oil grades with respect to qualitative characteristics and choose the most acceptable grades to obtain a mixture of optimal quality.

The Odessa-Brody-Mozyr route is being considered in the South. Only the delivery by rail through the Klaipedos Nafta terminal is possible in the North for now. There are two oil pipelines to Naftan there: Ventspils-Polotsk and Mažeikiai-Polotsk, which have not been used for almost 15 years. Belarus plans to conduct negotiations with foreign partners to discuss all technicalities.

The Polish Gdansk-Adamowo Zastava-Mozyr route could be used to supply oil through the pipeline from the port of Gdansk to Naftan. Poland is conceptually ready for this transit, says Labut. Poland is laying the second string of the pipeline in the section from Gdansk to Plock, which can also be used in the future.

Belneftekhim chose the Belarusian Oil Company as the single oil procurement operator.

As reported, Belarus and Russia have been failing to agree on long-term oil contracts since late 2019 due to price disagreements. In 2020, Belarus began to import oil in sea tankers from the Lithuanian port of Klaipeda and from the Ukrainian port of Odessa, which is then delivered though the Odessa-Brody and Brody-Mozyr pipelines to the Mozyr Oil Refinery. Oil is being delivered from Klaipeda to Naftan by rail, which significantly increases the cost of supplies.

President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko instructed in March 2020 to complete the infrastructure of the Druzhba oil pipeline to import oil from the Baltic ports. The United States can provide assistance in organizing oil supplies to Belarus from the Baltic ports. Washington can provide cheap loans for the construction of a pipeline from the Baltic Sea. Lukashenko also tasked the government to prepare infrastructure in one and a half or two years, which requires around $100-120 million. End

Monday forex session: ruble up 0.33% against dollar to Br2.3732/$1

MINSK, Jun 8 – PrimePress. Following the bidding at the single forex session of the Belarusian Currency and Stock Exchange (BCSE) in the format of a continuous two-way auction, the Belarusian ruble stood at Br2,3732/$1 to the dollar on Jun 8, up 0.33% on the previous day of trading, says the BCSE official report.

Following the bidding at the single forex session on Monday, the ruble stood at Br2.6836/€1 to the euro, up 0.71%; at Br3.4764/RUB100 to the Russian ruble, down 0.2%.

As reported, the National Bank of Belarus (NBB) on June 1, 2015 stopped the practice of fixing the exchange rate of the Belarusian ruble to the basket of foreign currencies on a day-to-day basis and switched over to FX trading on the Belarusian Currency and Stock Exchange (BCSE) in the format of a continuous two-way auction.

The parties taking part in continuous two-way auctions at the BCSE are free to make bids and offers during the entire auction period, however deals will be made if the FX trading system bridges bids with relevant offers.

The weighted average rate of the US dollar, the euro and the Russian ruble shall be the National Bank’s official exchange rate of the relevant currency for the day that follows the day of trading.

At the moment, the exchange rate of the Belarusian ruble is pegged to the basket of foreign currencies, with the share of the Russian ruble standing at 50%, the US dollar – 30%, the euro – 20%. End

Belarus estimating cost of electricity after NPP launch

MINSK, Jun 8 – PrimePress. An interdepartmental commission estimates the cost of Belarusian electricity after the commissioning of the Belarusian nuclear power plant (Astravyets District, Grodno Oblast), says the Ministry of Energy of Belarus.

According to Minister of Energy of Belarus Viktor Karankevich, the start-up of the reactor of the NPP’s first power unit is scheduled for July 2020. The plant is expected to start supplying energy to the national power grid in September-October 2020. Many experts say there will be an excess of electricity in the country, since Lithuania is going to prevent Belarus’ electricity export to the European Union. President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko said on June 4 that he would find “where to supply electricity.” “We will give it to the people,” he said. He promised to find a way to reduce the cost of the NPP and lower electricity tariffs.

According to the minister, the cost of electricity in the Belarusian energy system is influenced by many factors, primarily the price of imported Russian natural gas.

At present the cost of electricity in Belarus stands at Br0.16 per 1 kWh ($0.07 at the official rate of the National Bank of Belarus). Karankevich said this cost is not supposed to be higher once the NPP has been put into operation.

The share of the cost of fossil fuels in the cost of electric energy generated by plants other than NPPs ranges from 60% to 80%, while the cost of nuclear fuel makes up around 20% that includes the cost of its storage and post-processing.

Belarus’ first nuclear power plant in Ostrovets (a town in the Grodno Region also referred to as Astravyets) will have two units with a combined capacity of up to 2,400 megawatts, which are slated to be launched in 2019 and 2020, respectively. The Belarusian nuclear station’s design stems from the AES-2006 design developed by the St Petersburg-based institute Atomenergoproject, which is also the general contractor of the Belarusian project.

In 2019, Belarus exported 2.37 billion kWh of electricity (a 127% year-on-year increase) worth $123.563 million (up 126%). The average export price of Belarusian electricity decreased in 2019 by 0.8% yoy to $52.129 per 1,000 kWh. Belarus supplies electricity to Lithuania, Ukraine and Latvia. End

First power unit of Belarus’ NPP may start providing electricity in Aug 2020 – Rosatom

MINSK, Jun 8 – PrimePress. The 1st power unit of the Belarusian NPP (Astravyets District, Grodno Oblast) may start generating electricity in August 2020, says Mikhail Pinchuk, CEO of the Rosatom’s Energospetsmontazh PJSC.

The Ministry of Energy of Belarus said earlier that the start-up of the reactor of the 1st power unit was scheduled for July 2020.

Energospetsmontazh is involved in construction and installation works at various Rosatom facilities, including nuclear power plants outside Russia.

Belarus’ first nuclear power plant in Ostrovets (a town in the Grodno Region also referred to as Astravyets) will have two units with a combined capacity of up to 2,400 megawatts, which are slated to be launched in 2019 and 2020, respectively. The Belarusian nuclear station’s design stems from the AES-2006 design developed by the St Petersburg-based institute Atomenergoproject, which is also the general contractor of the Belarusian project. End

Belorusneft’s electricity output up 4.3% in Apr 2020 to 31.036m kWh

MINSK, June 8 – PrimePress. Belorusneft State Production Association (Rechitsa, Gomel Region) reduced electric energy production in April 2020 by 4.3% year on year to 31.036 million kWh, the company told PrimePress.

Belorusneft produced 8.883 million kWh of electricity from renewable energy sources in Apr 2020, down 2.6% year on year.

Belorusneft consumed about 75% of the generated electricity and supplied the rest to Belenergo facilities.

As reported, Belorusneft increased electricity output in 2019 by 2.4% year on year to 403.491 million kWh, including 68.392 million kWh from renewable sources, up 2.6%.

Belorusneft is developing its own electricity production based on the local type of fuel–associated petroleum gas and solar energy. The Belarusian Gas Processing Plant, which is part of Belorusneft, is the largest electricity generating enterprise in the country, operating on associated petroleum gas and solar energy.

The capacity of Belorusneft’s power plants totals 104.2 MW, including 59 MW of solar stations.

Belorusneft was founded in 1966. The company specializes in exploration work, oil extraction, gas processing and offers a wide range of seismic exploration operations.

Belorusneft provides oil extraction service in Russia, Ukraine, Venezuela and Ecuador, facilitates crude supplies to Belarusian on refineries on a give-and-take basis. Belorusneft sells oil products via a proprietary network of refilling stations–the largest network in the country. End

NBB’s currency rates as of Jun 9, 2020

MINSK, Jun 8 – PrimePress. The National Bank of Belarus (NBB) set on Jun 8, 2020 the following exchange rates of the Belarusian ruble (Br) against foreign currencies for Jun 9, 2020.

  Currency   Br
1 AUSTRALIAN DOLLAR AUD 1.6580
1 BULGARIAN LEV BGN 1.3708
100 UKRANIAN HRYVNA UAH 8.9286
10 DANISH KRONE DKK 3.5954
1 U.S. DOLLAR USD 2.3732
1 EURO EUR 2.6836
10 POLISH ZŁOTY PLN 6.0433
10,0000 IRANIAN RIAL IRR 5.6505
100 ICELAND KRONA ISK 1.7957
100 JAPANESE YEN JPY 2.1688
1 CANADIAN DOLLAR CAD 1.7712
10 CHINESE YUAN CNY 3.3547
1 KUWAITI DINAR KWD 7.7057
10 Moldovan Leu MDL 1.3948
1 New Zealand Dollar NZD 1.5492
10 NORWEGIAN KRONE NOK 2.5611
100 RUSSIAN RUBLE RUB 3.4764
1 SDR (Special Drawing Rights) XDR 3.2789
1 SINGAPORE DOLLAR SGD 1.061
100 KIRGHIZ SOM KGS 3.1957
1,000 KAZAKH TENGE KZT 5.9725
10 TURKISH LIRAS TRY 3.4975
1 BRITISH POUND STERLING GBP 3.0083
100 CZECH KORUNA CZK 10.0781
10 SWEDISH KRONA SEK 2.5798
1 SWISS FRANK CHF 2.4650

 

June 5, 2020

Belarus registers 46,868 coronavirus cases as of Jun 5, 2020, 259 dead

MINSK, Jun 5 – PrimePress. Belarus registered 46,868 coronavirus cases as of Jun 5, 2020, the Health Ministry of Belarus reports on its official Telegram channel.

22,066 recovered patients have been discharged from hospitals.

Yesterday, the ministry reported 45,981 registered coronavirus cases and 253 deaths in Belarus.

The Health Ministry says 597,013 tests for the coronavirus infection have been conducted in Belarus as of Jun 5. End

 

New government challenged to improve cooperation between public agencies – premier

MINSK, Jun 5 – PrimePress. Belarus’ newly-appointed government, which operates in a new economic and epidemiological environment, is supposed to change its style and crisis management methods of work, and in particular, improve cooperation between all public agencies and ministries concerned.

Prime Minister Roman Golovchenko made a statement to this effect at the ceremony to officially introduce the new premier to heads of government agencies and staff of the Council of Ministers on June 4.

“The ongoing pandemic crisis has shown that delay is unacceptable. It is unacceptable to get bogged down in some interdepartmental haggling over better conditions for your department. We have neither the time nor the opportunity to do so. Because when we get bogged down in interagency disagreements, we sometimes lose the main thing – time. And time is now becoming a critical factor,” said Golovchenko.

As previously reported, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko on June 4, 2020, appointed Roman Golovchenko as new prime minister.

Roman Golovchenko previously held the post of the chairman of the State Authority for Military Industry; in 2013-2018 he worked as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Belarus to the United Arab Emirates – concurrently in the State of Qatar, Kuwait and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Golovchenko also worked at the State Secretariat of the Security Council of Belarus, the Prosecutor General’s Office and the Presidential Administration. End

Belarus, Hungary may increase trade turnover to €500m in 2-3 years – Golovchenko

MINSK, Jun 5 – PrimePress. Belarus and Hungary may increase their mutual trade turnover up to €500 million within two or three years.

Belarus’ Prime Minister Roman Golovchenko made a statement to this effect at a meeting with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban on June 5, as reported by the government press service.

Following Orban’s meeting with Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko earlier on June 5, it was announced that Belarus and Hungary will seek to expand mutual trade turnover from $255m in 2019 to €500m.

“This is an absolutely feasible task; it is all about collective work by the governments of both states, representatives of the business community,” said Golovchenko.

In May 2020, the Intergovernmental Belarusian-Hungarian Commission on Economic Cooperation discussed promising areas of trade and economic cooperation. “Therefore, in principle, the entire agenda for the nearest projects and prospects is known. So it is all a matter of persistent implementation,” said Golovchenko.

In particular, the parties plan to employ Belarusian technologies in Hungary in such areas as mechanical engineering, construction, and Hungarian technologies in Belarus – agriculture and pharmaceuticals.

As previously reported, in 2019 the mutual trade turnover in commodities between Belarus and Hungary totalled $255 million, in 2018 – $194.9 million (including export – $78.1 million, import – $116.7 million). The main positions of Belarusian exports are tractors, acrylonitrile, potassium and mineral mixed fertilizers, timber, and tractor spare parts. The main import items are: pharmaceuticals and medicines, tyres, electric transformers, chemical resins and polyurethanes, polymers of ethylene and propylene, corn. Belarus has eight companies with Hungarian investments (two foreign enterprises and six joint ventures) with a total charter capital of $1.7 million. The volume of accumulated investments from Hungary in 2019 amounted to about $2.2 million, while Belarusian investments in Hungary – $730 thousand. End

Around 1,700 entities get aid thanks to community support bill

MINSK, Jun 5 – PrimePress. Around 1,700 economic entities have received assistance in the framework of President Lukashenko’s ordinance #143 of Apr 24, 2020, according to Belarus’ Economy Minister Alexander Chervyakov.

The minister released these figures during a video conference with representatives of associations of companies and self-employed businessmen on June 4, as reported by the press service of the Economy Ministry of Belarus.

The minister says that Belarus has created a three-level system of pandemic alleviation economic support based on the provisions of ordinance #143. The first level is aimed at reducing costs for companies and self-employed businessmen by reducing the tax burden, as well as land and property rents and debt for energy resources. It also provides opportunities to adjust depreciation policies, recalculate exchange rate differences and attribute them to future periods. The second level is support for employers to pay salaries and social assistance to citizens. The third level – target support to companies affected by the pandemic.

As previously reported, President Lukashenko signed into action ordinance #143 of Apr 24, 2020 “On Supporting The Economy,” which defines measures to ensure sustainable operation of the country’s economy and social sphere in conditions of coronavirus infection development. The ordinance provides for the implementation of measures to support economic entities in certain sectors of the economy that are most vulnerable to the adverse impact of the current epidemiological situation. The list of such industries is defined in the annex to the ordinance. End

 

EBRD expects to sustain Belarus investment portfolio at last year’s high in 2020 – Marina Petrov

MINSK, Jun 5 – PrimePress. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) counts on sustaining the 2020 volume of investments in Belarus at the level of 2019, when EBRD financing reached an all-time high of €390 million. Marina Petrov, Head of the EBRD Office in Belarus, mentioned these figures in an interview with PrimePress.

Marina Petrov reminded that 2019 was a record-setting year for the EBRD business in Belarus. “This year our plans are being adjusted, but our role in the current situation, as well as the demand for our services, is only increasing. We continue supporting existing and new clients and expect that our annual investment volume will not decrease,” said Marina Petrov.

The prospects of joint projects between the bank and the government of Belarus were discussed during a recent video conference meeting between the EBRD President and the Prime Minister of Belarus. According to Marina Petrov, the parties exchanged views on the impact of coronavirus on the economy of Belarus and the implementation of strategic projects in this regard.

“The EBRD, in particular, stressed the importance of the country’s cooperation with the International Monetary Fund, expressed readiness to provide credit facilities to a number of Belarusian banks to stimulate trade operations and support small business enterprises. The bank also keeps working on important municipal infrastructure projects and with private investors. We have confirmed the bank’s interest in continuing cooperation in the privatization of industrial assets and concession of the M10 motorway,” said Marina Petrov.

In Belarus, the bank is working with the government to prepare for the privatization of Krynitsa Brewery and Krasnoselskstroymaterials Cement Plant. The concession project of the M10 motorway – the first planned public private partnership project in Belarus – provides for the reconstruction of a 85.25 km segment of the M10 highway (the Russian border (Selishche) – Gomel – Kobrin). The road will become a transport corridor from Russia to the European Union in southern Belarus.

Marina Petrov added that in 2020 in Belarus the EBRD will in the first place focus on implementing the already signed projects, both in public and private sectors.

“It means that we are doing everything possible to stick to the schedule disbursing credit funds, as well as procuring goods and services in the public sector. We have a large portfolio of potential projects, which should allow us to maintain the pace of investment in the country at the level of previous years,” said the head of the EBRD Office in Belarus.

She also shared the bank’s forecasts regarding the situation in the Belarusian economy: the EBRD expects Belarus’ GDP to decline by 5% in 2020 and expand by 3.5% in 2021.

“On the eve of the coronavirus pandemic, the Belarusian economy was already in the slow-up phase. According to preliminary estimates, Belarus’ GDP declined by 0.3% year on year in the first quarter of 2020, amid a delay in reaching a new oil agreement with Russia, which led to a halt in oil deliveries to Belarusian refineries in early 2020. The coronavirus pandemic is likely to exacerbate this trend,” said Marina Petrov.

The head of the EBRD Office noted that the refusal of Belarus to introduce strict deterrent measures against the spread of COVID-19 means that the reduction of domestic consumption will probably not be as sharp as in other countries.

“However, it is expected that external demand will be significantly reduced due to the global recession. Expanded economic ties with Russia make Belarus even more vulnerable to lower oil prices and the expected recession in Russia,” said Marina Petrov.

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development is an international financial institution headquartered in London, created to support the economic transformations in Central and Eastern Europe. Since the start of its operations in Belarus in 1992, the EBRD has invested €2.917 billion in 134 projects in various sectors of the country’s economy. In 2016 the EBRD adopted a new strategy for operations in Belarus in 2016-2019. The document abolished the calibrated approach, which restricted EBRD operations with the public sector. Belarus and the EBRD have been implementing a number of projects in utilities industry, energy saving, transport infrastructure and environment protection. End

EBRD plans to expand pool of partner banks in Belarus under the trade facilitation programme – Marina Petrov

MINSK, Jun 5 – PrimePress. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) plans to expand the pool of partner banks in Belarus under the trade facilitation programme, said Marina Petrov, Head of the EBRD Office in Belarus.

In her interview with PrimePress, Marina Petrov emphasized that at the moment it is very important to stimulate trade operations, which affect the normal functioning of the economy, as well as to preserve international sales channels.

“In this regard, the EBRD will expand cooperation with Belarusian banks as part of the trade facilitation programme. This year we hope to start working in this direction with new banks,” said Marina Petrov.

The head of the EBRD Office in Belarus said it is important to continue supporting lending to medium-sized and small enterprises through existing partner banks, especially in local currency. At present, the pool of the EBRD partners includes Belinvestbank, Priorbank, Bank Dabrabyt, MTBank, BNB-Bank and Raiffeisen Leasing.

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development is an international financial institution headquartered in London, created to support the economic transformations in Central and Eastern Europe. Since the start of its operations in Belarus in 1992, the EBRD has invested €2.917 billion in 134 projects in various sectors of the country’s economy. In 2016 the EBRD adopted a new strategy for operations in Belarus in 2016-2019. The document abolished the calibrated approach, which restricted EBRD operations with the public sector. Belarus and the EBRD have been implementing a number of projects in utilities industry, energy saving, transport infrastructure and environment protection. End

Belarus’ IMF SDDS foreign exchange reserves down 0.05% in May 2020 to $7.879bn

MINSK, Jun 5 – PrimePress. Belarus’ international reserves reduced by 0.05% month on month in May 2020 to U.S. $7.879 billion as of Jun 1, 2020 by the International Monetary Fund’s Special Data Dissemination Standards, according to a preliminary statistical report released by National Bank of Belarus (NBB).

Referring to factors, which resulted in reducing the level of Belarus’ foreign exchange reserves, the regulator mentioned transfers to pay off the government’s external and internal debt: in May 2020, the National Bank and the government spent some $220 million to pay off the government’s external and internal debt.

As for factors, which helped Belarus sustain the level of FX reserves, the regulator mentioned purchases of foreign exchange by the National Bank at the Belarusian Currency and Stock Exchange, an increase in the value of monetary gold, proceeds from FX bond placement by the Ministry of Finance, FX revenues.

With regard to the structure of Belarus’ FX and gold reserves, monetary gold grew by 1.4% month on month in May 2020 to $2.738 billion, Special Drawing Rights – unchanged at $508.6 million, FX reserves down 1.8% to $4.45 billion, other assets expanded in May by 29% to $182.3 million.

Belarus’ IMF SDDS foreign exchange reserves reduced by 16.1% in Jan-May 2020.

In accordance with the 2019 Guidelines for Belarus’ monetary management policy, Belarus’ gold and foreign exchange reserves are supposed to reach at least $7.3 billion as of Jan 1, 2021.

Belarus’ international reserves stood at U.S. $9.394bn as of Jan 1, 2020; $7.158 billion as of Jan 1, 2019; at $7.315bn as of Jan 1, 2018; $4.927bn as of Jan 1, 2017; $4.176bn as of Jan 1, 2016; $5.059bn as of Jan 1, 2015; $6.651bn as of Jan 1, 2014; $8.095bn as of Jan 1, 2013. End

Belarusians’ FX sales exceed FX purchases by $28m in May 2019

MINSK, Jun 5 – PrimePress. FX sales by Belarus’ private households exceeded their FX purchases from banks by $28 million in May 2020: individuals purchased from Belarusian banks $401.1 million in cash foreign currency and sold to banks $429.3 million, the National Bank of Belarus (NBB) said in an official statistical report.

In Jan-May 2020, individuals purchased from banks $2.488 billion worth of cash foreign exchange and sold to banks $2.582 billion. In Jan-May 2020, FX sales by Belarus’ private households exceeded their FX purchases from banks by $94 million.

In May alone, cashless FX purchases by individuals exceeded FX sales totalled $87.1 million: FX purchases – $226.8 million, sales – $139.7 million.

In Jan-May 2020, cashless FX purchases by individuals stood at $1.44bn, sales – $765.5m, margin – $674.5m.

In May 2020, FX purchases by individuals (both cash and cashless) exceeded their FX sales by $58.8 million: purchases – $627.9 million, sales – $569.1m.

In Jan-May 2020, FX purchases (both cash and cashless) by individuals totalled $3.928bn, FX sales – $3.347bn, margin – $581m.

In May 2020, Belarus’ resident companies purchased $1.569bn and sold $1.574bn. Hence, in the corporate sector, FX sales exceeded FX purchases by $5 million.

In Jan-May 2020, FX purchases by resident companies totalled $9.208bn, FX sales – $8.452bn, margin – $756m.

With non-resident companies, the May 2020 figures stand at $9.5 million (purchases), $45.1 million (sales) and $35.6 million (margin), respectively. In Jan-May 2020, purchases by non-resident companies totalled $130.1m, FX sales – $355.3m, margin – $225.2m.

The National Bank does not post statistical reports on currency exchange transactions conducted by non-resident companies in accordance with the EEU Treaty of May 29, 2014. Hence, the official data on non-residents’ FX transactions on the domestic market are incomplete.

Resident banks, Belarus Development Bank and non-banking credit and finance organizations bought in May 2020 at their own expense (without conversion operations) $2.78 billion, sold – $2.87 billion, margin – $9 million.

Their FX purchases on the Belarusian Currency and Stock Exchange OJSC (BCSE) in May 2020 totalled $528.6 billion, sales – $582.5  million, margin –$53.9 million. Purchases on the OTC market stood at $1.822 billion, sales – $1.886 billion, margin – $64 million. Purchases on the cash currency market totalled $401.1 million, sales – $401.1 million, margin –$2.2 million.

In Jan-May 2020, resident banks, Belarus Development Bank and non-banking credit and finance organizations purchased $16.523 billion, sold $16.99 billion, the margin being $467 million.

They bought $3.949 billion on the BCSE in Jan-May 2020 and sold $3.119 billion (+$830m); bought $9.992 billion on the OTC market and sold $11.383 billion (-$1.391bn); bought $2.582 billion on the cash currency market and sold $2.488 billion (+$94m).

As previously reported, since January 2020, the National Bank started publishing data on spot transactions by resident banks, the Development Bank and the non-banking credit and finance institutions at its own expense (without conversion operations) on the purchase and sale of foreign currency in the domestic market. This gives a more accurate picture of what is happening in the foreign exchange market.

The official weighted average rate of the Belarusian ruble against the US dollar stood at Br2.3459/$1 in Jan-May 2020, May alone – Br2.4288/$1. End

Konstantin Tsereteli leaves office as BNB-Bank CEO

MINSK, Jun 5 – PrimePress. BNB-Bank OJSC has informed about the decision by the Board of Directors in favour of early termination of Konstantin Tsereteli’s powers as Director General and member of the BNB-Bank Management Board starting Jun 3, 2020. This decision was made on the basis of Konstantin Tsereteli’s appeal to terminate his powers for professional and personal reasons, the bank’s press service reports.

Konstantin Tsereteli has been BNB-Bank CEO since 2009.Lasha Akubardia will take over from Tsereteli as BNB-Bank CEO starting June 4, 2020. End

Friday forex session: ruble up 0.69% against dollar to Br2.3810/$1

MINSK, Jun 5 – PrimePress. Following the bidding at the single forex session of the Belarusian Currency and Stock Exchange (BCSE) in the format of a continuous two-way auction, the Belarusian ruble stood at Br2.3810/$1 to the dollar on June 5, up 0.69% on the previous day of trading, says the BCSE official report.

Following the bidding at the single forex session on Friday, the ruble stood at Br2.7028/€1 to the euro, down 0.6%; at Br3.4695/RUB100 to the Russian ruble, up 0.13%.

As previously reported, the National Bank of Belarus (NBB) on June 1, 2015 stopped the practice of fixing the exchange rate of the Belarusian ruble to the basket of foreign currencies on a day-to-day basis and switched over to FX trading on the Belarusian Currency and Stock Exchange (BCSE) in the format of a continuous two-way auction.

The parties taking part in continuous two-way auctions at the BCSE are free to make bids and offers during the entire auction period, however deals will be made if the FX trading system bridges bids with relevant offers.

The weighted average rate of the US dollar, the euro and the Russian ruble shall be the National Bank’s official exchange rate of the relevant currency for the day that follows the day of trading.

At the moment, the exchange rate of the Belarusian ruble is pegged to the basket of foreign currencies, with the share of the Russian ruble standing at 50%, the US dollar – 30%, the euro – 20%. 

 

Minsk asks Gazprom for method of gas calorific value calculation

MINSK, Jun 5 – PrimePress. The Belarusian Energy Ministry has asked Russia’s Gazprom for the methodology of calculating the actual average monthly calorific value of natural gas it supplies, the key factor in determining its price, the ministry said on Friday.

“In order to settle the dispute, the ministry thinks that Gazprom Transgaz Belarus should provide methods for determining the actual average monthly calorific value of natural gas with metrological confirmation of its compliance with the legislation of Belarus,” the ministry said in a letter on conditions of natural gas supplies in 2020 and pricing from January 1, 2021.

On May 29, Gazprom said that it would be ready to negotiate gas supplies to Belarus from 2021 only after Minsk settles its U.S. $165.6 million debt for gas. The Belarusian Energy Ministry denied having any debt, saying that the companies were having pricing disagreements due to calorific value of gas.

On May 29, Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller said he was ready to negotiate the terms of gas supply to Belarus for the period after January 1, 2021, only after the current debt for gas supplies in the amount of $165.57 million has been fully settled. According to Miller, a letter explaining Gazprom’s position was forwarded to Belarus’ Energy Ministry. On the same day, the Energy Ministry of Belarus announced that Minsk does not have a gas debt to Moscow but there is a price disagreement between the sides, taking into account the caloric value of gas.

In a telephone conversation with Belarusian Prime Minister Sergey Rumas on May 27, Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin emphasized that Belarus and Russia should strictly adhere to oil and gas agreements. The premiers agreed to continue discussions on energy issues through agencies concerned, the report says.

Belarus annually imports about 20 billion cubic metres of gas from Russia and is the largest consumer of Russian gas after Germany.

Belarus annually imports about 20 billion cubic metres of gas from Russia and is the largest consumer of Russian gas after Germany.

In February 2020, Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller and Belarusian ambassador to Russia Vladimir Semashko signed a document on the gas pricing formula for 2020, keeping the price for Belarus flat on the year at U.S. $127 per 1,000 cubic metres. Back then, Belarus’ officials, including Lukashenko, referred to the gas deal as a big victory. However, subsequently the price of oil and gas in the global market dropped significantly, and the favourable ‘non-market’ and stable price of $127 for the whole year turned out for Belarus to be an excess payment in comparison with other buyers of Russian gas.

Since then, Lukashenko, Rumas and relevant officials have stated the need to reduce the gas price. For instance, Rumas said that Belarus would try to prove to Gazprom at the talks in May 2020 that the price of gas imported from Russia was excessive, as the price for spot deliveries stood at $80 per thousand cubic metres. Russia, on its part, insists on implementing the contract. End

Belarus, Hungary sign memorandum of cooperation in nuclear energy sector

MINSK, Jun 5 – PrimePress. Belarus and Hungary have concluded a memorandum on cooperation in the field of electric power, which acknowledges the parties’ mutual interest in developing cooperation contacts in the sectors of construction of nuclear power facilities and infrastructure, operation of nuclear power plants (NPPs), storage and disposal of radioactive waste. This was reported by the press service of the Ministry of Energy of Belarus.

“The Memorandum of Cooperation between the Ministry of Energy of Belarus and the Office of the Prime Minister of Hungary in the field of electric power was signed on June 5, 2020 in Minsk,” reads the report. End

First tanker with 80,000 tonnes of crude for Belarus expected to arrive in Klaipeda Jun 5

MINSK, Jun 5 – PrimePress. The first tanker with 80,000 tonnes of Bakken crude oil from the United States will arrive in Klaipeda (Lithuania) in the evening on Jun 5, Belneftekhim press officer Alexander Tishchenko told journalists.

Press secretary of Belneftekhim concern Alexander Tishchenko informed that the tanker will deliver 80 thousand tonnes of Bakken oil to Klaipeda, from where the oil will be taken by rail to Naftan Refinery (Novopolotsk, Vitebsk Oblast).

This deal was made with the assistance of U.S. energy trader United Energy Trading, in cooperation with U.S. firm Getka and their Polish partner UNIMOT.

Foreign Minister Vladimir Makey reported in May 2020: “The delivery of oil from the U.S. to Belarus became possible as a result of the agreements reached during the visit to Belarus of the U.S. Secretary of State, Michael Pompeo, and his meeting with the President of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko… Delivery of American oil is part of the state strategy to diversify sources (supply) and secure steady functioning of the oil processing complex of Belarus in 2020 and subsequent years.”

This will be the 12th tanker with alternative oil Belarus has received since early 2020. End

Belarus, Hungary sign memorandum of understanding on cooperation in poultry breeding

MINSK, Jun 5 – PrimePress. Belarus and Hungary have signed a memorandum of understanding on cooperation in poultry breeding. The document was signed on Jun 5 as part of the official meeting of Belarus Prime Minister Roman Golovchenko with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, reports the press service of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food.

The memorandum provides for assistance in poultry breeding, in particular, facilitation of supplies of chickens from Hungary to Belarus, as well as support in establishing joint ventures and investment cooperation with the purpose of developing geese farming in Belarus on the basis of highly productive Hungarian geese breeds.

In particular, the issue of establishing a geese farming enterprise in Gomel Region is under consideration.