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Press Release : EMBASSY OF THE REPUBLIC OF BELARUS

EMBASSY OF THE REPUBLIC OF BELARUS

IN THE REPUBLI C OF INDIA

May 19, 2020

Belarus registers 31,508 coronavirus cases, 175 deaths as of May 19, 2020

MINSK, May 19 – PrimePress. Belarus registered 31,508 confirmed coronavirus cases as of May 19, 2020, 175 people died, the Health Ministry of Belarus reports on its official Telegram channel.

10,620 patients have recovered and have been discharged from hospitals.

As reported, the number of registered coronavirus cases in Belarus reached 30,572 a day before; 171 patients died.

The Health Ministry reports 375,000 tests for the coronavirus infection as of May 19, 2020. End

EEU should find ways to preserve agriculture amid COVID-19 pandemic – Lukashenko

MINSK, May 19 – PrimePress. It is extremely important to the countries of the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) to find ways to preserve the agricultural and industrial sectors in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, thus taking all possible measures to protect people, President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko said on May 19 during the EEU online summit.

“We hear highly negative expert forecasts for some states, continents even, for the near and distant future. Providing the population with food is one of the most pressing issues, they say. Therefore, today extremely important to find ways to preserve the agricultural and industrial sectors of our countries today, while taking all measures to protect the people,” said Lukashenko.

According to the president, long-lasting quarantine measures and self-isolation amid the coronavirus pandemic have shown that “even superpowers do not have safety cushions to prevent their national economies from recession when borders are shut and enterprises stand idle.”

Lukashenko said earlier that EEU needs to make timely decisions to ensure food security after the pandemic. The recent increase in demand for foods has clearly shown that “this matter must be addressed at the highest level.”

The Eurasian Economic Union is an international integration economic association that has been operating since January 1, 2015. It unites Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. Belarus is presiding in EEU bodies in 2020. End

EEU needs consensus on common gas market – Lukashenko

MINSK, May 19 – PrimePress. The countries of the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) need to reach consensus on prices of gas transportation in the common market, President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko said on May 19 during the EEU online summit.

The intergovernmental council failed to achieve an agreement on gas transportation tariffs on April 23, 2020. Before that, Lukashenko addressed the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council, asking Russian President Vladimir Putin to quickly consider gas prices in the EEU, to make them more flexible in the crisis situation.

“The issue of prices of gas transportation services in the EEU common market remains unresolved. We cannot find a final mutually acceptable solution for several years now. Today, we must reach a consensus that we all need,” Lukashenko said.

He prioritized the adoption of a draft Eurasian economic integration strategy for the period to 2025. In general, the parties managed to make agreed decisions in all areas of integration.

As reported, in February 2020, Gazprom head Alexei Miller and Belarus’ Ambassador to the Russian Federation Vladimir Semashko approved a pricing procedure for supplies of Russian gas to Belarus in 2020, which left the gas price for Belarus at the level of 2019 ($127 per 1,000 cubic meters). Since then, 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.

Prime Minister of Belarus Sergey Rumas said on May 14 that Belarus would try to prove to Gazprom in May 2020 that the price of gas imported from Russia at $127 per 1,000 cubic meters is excessive, since the spot price stands at $80.

The Eurasian Economic Union is an international integration economic association that has been operating since January 1, 2015. It unites Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. Belarus is presiding in EEU bodies in 2020. End

Lukashenko wants Russia to take EEU agreements into account when taking measures to increase its GDP

MINSK, May 19 – PrimePress. President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko hope that Russia will correlate the measures taken to resume economic growth against the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic with the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) agreements. He spoke about this on May 19 during the EEU online summit.

“We hope that Russia, as a locomotive of our integration association, will correlate the measures taken to resume economic growth with our Union agreements to ensure free access to the markets of the member states,” he said.

According to the president, long-lasting quarantine measures and self-isolation amid the coronavirus pandemic have shown that “even superpowers do not have safety cushions to prevent their national economies from recession when borders are shut and enterprises stand idle.”

The Eurasian Economic Union is an international integration economic association that has been operating since January 1, 2015. It unites Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. Belarus is presiding in EEU bodies in 2020. End

Belarus and Armenia reject EEU gas tariff formula – Putin

MINSK, May 19 – PrimePress. Armenia and Belarus do not accept the proposed common formula for calculating gas tariffs in the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), Russian President Vladimir Putin said on May 19 at the session of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council.

The formula was proposed in the draft EEU Development Strategy for the period to 2025. The draft has been virtually approved with the exception of one item regarding gas transportation tariffs, Putin said.

“There is a formula that three countries–Russia, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan–support. Approaches to gas pricing could be determined later in talks on the EEU gas market. This formula has not yet been accepted by our Armenian and Belarusian counterparts. They have their own point of view on this matter. If they agreed, there would be no other obstacles to approving the Strategy,” Putin said.

The EEU common gas market is expected to begin functioning in 2025. Head of the Eurasian Economic Commission (EEC) Mikhail Myasnikovich said in early March that the EEU members were going to prepare a draft agreement on the gas market functioning before 2022. He said in February that a single market implies unified transportation tariffs.

The EEU prime ministers failed to reach a consensus on the tariffs in late April.

As reported, in February 2020, Gazprom head Alexei Miller and Belarus’ Ambassador to the Russian Federation Vladimir Semashko approved a pricing procedure for supplies of Russian gas to Belarus in 2020, which left the gas price for Belarus at the level of 2019 ($127 per 1,000 cubic meters). Since then, 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.

Lukashenko and the Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan agreed in a telephone talk on March 31 that the price of Russian natural gas was unreasonably high and, obviously, did not correspond to the current global situation.

Prime Minister of Belarus Sergey Rumas said on May 14 that Belarus would try to prove to Gazprom in May 2020 that the price of gas imported from Russia at $127 per 1,000 cubic meters is excessive, since the spot price stands at $80.

The Eurasian Economic Union is an international integration economic association that has been operating since January 1, 2015. It unites Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. Belarus is presiding in EEU bodies in 2020. End

Putin proposes adopting EEU Strategy without paragraph on gas for now

MINSK, May 19 – PrimePress. If Armenia and Belarus do not change their position on the gas tariffs, it is logical to exclude this point from the draft Development Strategy of the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), Russian President Vladimir Putin said on May 19 at the session of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council.

Armenia and Belarus do not accept the general EEU formula for calculating gas tariffs proposed by the draft EEU Development Strategy until 2025.

Putin said consideration of approaches to gas pricing could continue at the level of experts and the Eurasian Economic Commission.

Lukashenko and the Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan agreed in a telephone talk on March 31 that the price of Russian natural gas was unreasonably high and, obviously, did not correspond to the current global situation.

In February 2020, Gazprom head Alexei Miller and Belarus’ Ambassador to the Russian Federation Vladimir Semashko approved a pricing procedure for supplies of Russian gas to Belarus in 2020, which left the gas price for Belarus at the level of 2019 ($127 per 1,000 cubic meters). Since then, 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.

Prime Minister of Belarus Sergey Rumas said on May 14 that Belarus would try to prove to Gazprom in May 2020 that the price of gas imported from Russia at $127 per 1,000 cubic meters is excessive, since the spot price stands at $80.

The Eurasian Economic Union is an international integration economic association that has been operating since January 1, 2015. It unites Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. Belarus is presiding in EEU bodies in 2020. End

EEU integration level insufficient for setting unified gas tariffs – Putin

MINSK, May 19 – PrimePress. The level of integration in the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) is insufficient for setting unified gas tariffs, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on May 19 at the session of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council.

Armenia and Belarus do not accept the general EEU formula for calculating gas tariffs proposed by the draft EEU Development Strategy until 2025.

“In our opinion, a single tariff proposed by our Armenian and Belarusian friends for gas transportation and transit services can only be applied in a single market with a single budget and a single taxation system. This level of integration in the EEU has not yet been achieved,” Putin said.

“In the meantime, gas prices should base on the market environment, considering the costs and investments of suppliers, and should provide a reasonable rate of return on capital invested in production. This is, and I emphasize this, a common world practice,” he said.

As reported, Lukashenko and the Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan agreed in a telephone talk on March 31 that the price of Russian natural gas was unreasonably high and, obviously, did not correspond to the current global situation.

In February 2020, Gazprom head Alexei Miller and Belarus’ Ambassador to the Russian Federation Vladimir Semashko approved a pricing procedure for supplies of Russian gas to Belarus in 2020, which left the gas price for Belarus at the level of 2019 ($127 per 1,000 cubic meters). Since then, 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.

Prime Minister of Belarus Sergey Rumas said on May 14 that Belarus would try to prove to Gazprom in May 2020 that the price of gas imported from Russia at $127 per 1,000 cubic meters is excessive, since the spot price stands at $80.

The Eurasian Economic Union is an international integration economic association that has been operating since January 1, 2015. It unites Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. Belarus is presiding in EEU bodies in 2020. End

EEU integration should not limit sovereign rights of its members – Tokayev

MINSK, May 19 – PrimePress. Harmonization and unification of the laws of the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) should base on the principle of reasonable sufficiency and should not limit the sovereign rights of national governments and parliaments, President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev said on May 19 during the EEU online summit.

“Peculiarities of the national legal system should be factored in our work on integration, and we should be guided by the principle of necessary sufficiency when considering harmonization and unification of national legislations. Therefore, the harmonization and unification of legislation proposed by the Strategy regarding the legal responsibility–administrative and criminal–in some sectors, does not yet meet the principle of reasonable sufficiency,” said Tokayev.

In his opinion, such an approach “may lead to the rejection of the strategy by national public opinion, since the Strategy limits the sovereign rights of governments and parliaments.”

The Eurasian Economic Union is an international integration economic association that has been operating since January 1, 2015. It unites Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. Belarus is presiding in EEU bodies in 2020. End

Belarus still plans to float Eurobonds in 2020 – Ministry of Finance

MINSK, May 19 – PrimePress. Belarus has not abandoned the plan for the placement of Eurobonds in 2020 and is looking for a window of opportunity, Deputy Minister of Finance of Belarus Andrei Belkovets said during an online presentation of Eurotorg LLC on May 19.

Prime Minister Sergey Rumas said Belarus could place at least $1 billion in Eurobonds in the first quarter of 2020. Finance Minister Maxim Yermolovich announced the plan to raise $1.35 billion in foreign markets in 2020.

“We have not abandoned our idea in terms of issuing Eurobonds,” said Deputy Finance Minister Belkovets, “We held a road show in March, getting into the very beginning of the pandemic and the closure of markets. The situation was too volatile, but we are watching the market, looking for a window.”

He took part in an online presentation of Eurotorg, Belarus’ largest food retailer, which plans to place bonds on the Moscow Exchange in the amount of 5 billion Russian rubles.

Eurotorg has been operating since 1993. The first store under the Euroopt trademark opened in 1997. The company occupies a 19% share in the retail market of Belarus. As of December 31, 2019, the company operated 870 food stores with a total area of ​​835,800 sq. m. (334,600 sq. m. in sales area) in 323 populated localities. The company also develops a food delivery service (over 3.6 million orders in 2019). End

Belarusians may cash out money at cash desks from Jun 5, 2020 in villages, from Jan 1, 2022 in cities

MINSK, May 19 – PrimePress. The government and the National Bank and Belarus issued joint No.290/11 on May 15, 2020, which allows bank card holders to cash money at cash desks in stores of legal entities and individual entrepreneurs engaged in selling goods, works or services, in rural areas, small urban settlements and territories outside settlements from June 5, 2020, in other areas from January 1, 2022. The resolution was posted on the National Legal Internet Portal on May 19.

The one-time amount of cash per cardholder is up to five base units (Br135, $55.4 at the rate of the National Bank of Belarus; one base unit equals Br27, $11.08).

The resolution defines the “rural area” as a territory with the average annual population size of over 2,000 people (except for urban-type settlements and cities). “Small urban settlements” are the territory of urban-type settlements and cities with the average annual population size of 2,000 to 10,000 people.

The decision comes into force on June 5, 2020. End (Br2.4365/$1)

Belarus leasing cos’ portfolio grows by 11% in Jan-Mar 2020 to Br5.703bn

MINSK, May 19 – PrimePress. The total portfolio of lease contracts by Belarus’ leasing companies grew by 11% in January-March 2020 against January 1, 2020 to Br5.703 billion ($2.341 billion). The total number of effective lease contracts in Jan-Mar 2019 grew by 2.2% to Br718,610, Belarus’ Association of Lease Providers reports.

The portfolio of lease contracts with corporate customers stood at Br4.805 billion ($1.972 billion) – a total of 36,642 contracts as of Mar 31, 2020 (up 9.9% since Jan 1, 2020). Lease contracts with corporate customers accounted for 84.3% of the total value of lease contracts, up 4%.

The total number of personal lease contracts was up 2.1% in Jan-Mar 2020 to 385,413. The portfolio was up 18.1% to Br898.1 million ($368.6m).

The portfolio of international lease contracts reduced 16.4% In Jan-Mar 2020 to Br58.7 million ($24.1m). The portfolio of leaseback contracts reduced 3.3% to Br276.9 million ($133.6m).

A constant drop in the share of such agreements in the total leasing portfolio indicates a decrease in business entities’ need for external floating assets and involvement of leaseback for this purpose.

The amount of contracts concluded In Jan-Mar 2020 totalled Br929.2 million ($381.3m), including 84.3% in the investment leasing segment and 15.7% in the consumer leasing segment.

New contracts of Belarus’ leasing companies (the total value of lease items without VAT) accounted for Br631.6 million ($259.2 million), 20.7% in 1Q20.

Total lease payments charged in 1Q20 stands at Br712.1 million ($292.2m), or 27.9% of the total in 2019. Overdue leasing fees totalled Br153.7 million ($63.1m), 2.7% of the total portfolio against 2.4% as of Jan 1, 2020.

The total leasing portfolio in terms of operational leasing contracts increased by 7.4% in Jan-Mar 2020 to Br718,600 ($295,000). Operational leasing contracts accounted for 0.0126% of the total leasing portfolio, which once again indicates the lack of progress of this segment on the national scale.

As of Mar 31, 2020, 109 business entities were listed in the Register of Leasing Organizations of the National Bank of Belarus. End (Br2.4365/$1)

Tuesday forex session: ruble up 0.85% against dollar to Br2.4159/$1

MINSK, May 19 – 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 Br2.4159/$1 to the dollar on May 19, up 0.85% on the previous day of trading, says the BCSE official report.

Following the bidding at the single forex session on Tuesday, the ruble stood at Br2.6418/€1 to the euro, down 0.32%; at Br3.3382/RUB100 to the Russian ruble, down 0.03%.

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

IAEA recommends tighter monitoring and oversight of Belarus’ NPP commissioning program

MINSK, May 19 – PrimePress. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) recommended closer monitoring and supervision of the commissioning program of the Belarusian nuclear power plant (Astravyets District, Grodno Oblast) to ensure that the plant is adequately prepared for safe operation, reads the report of the IAEA’s Pre-OSART mission, which visited the NPP on August 5-22, 2019, says the Ministry of Energy of Belarus.

The Pre-OSART (Operational Safety Review Team) monitors the compliance with the IAEA regulations for nuclear power plants under construction and under commissioning before loading nuclear fuel.

The purpose of the mission was to verify the operational safety of the nuclear power plant for compliance with the IAEA safety standards, provide recommendations and suggestions for further improvement, and identify good practices that could be shared with nuclear power plants around the world.

Based on the results of its work, the IAEA mission formulated 11 recommendations and eight proposals aimed at improving the operational safety of the operating organization.

The mission also recommended improving the program for preventing potential foreign items from entering the plant’s safety systems and components. Also, it is proposed to introduce operational experience management programs to provide familiarization and lessons to be learned from internal and external operating experience.

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

Belarus’ petrol supplies to Russia by rail up to 40,100 tonnes in April 2020

MINSK, May 19 – PrimePress. Belarus’ petrol supplies to the Russian Federation by rail rose sharply in April 2020 to 40,100 tonnes, which is the largest volume over the past few years, says the news service of Argus international price agency.

Belarus only supplied a total of 200 tonnes to Russia by rail in 2019.

The price for many Russian wholesale buyers in April was at least 500 Russian rubles per tonne below the domestic price in Russia, and this includes the cost of transportation. Russian petrol supply on commodity exchanges dropped considerably in April as regulatory authorities and oil companies agreed to reduce the mandatory exchange sales of petroleum products from 10% to 5% until June 30. Owners of some filling station chains lay cheap Belarusian fuel in stocks, expecting further growth in demand for petrol and fuel price hikes after quarantine measures have been relaxed.

Over 30% of Belarusian fuel was shipped in April to the southern regions of Russia: Krasnodar Territory, Rostov Region, Stavropol Territory and Dagestan. Large volumes also went to the Kaliningrad Region, St. Petersburg and the Leningrad Region, and Bryansk and Smolensk Regions that border on Belarus, and Central Russia.

Interest in fuel imports into Russian decreased in the past two years after an upgrade of Russian refineries, increased domestic output, and the introduction of the damper mechanism in 2019.

Shipments of Belarusian petrol to Russia by rail totalled around 10,000 tonnes in January-April 2017, 82,000 tonnes in January-April 2016, and 171,000 in January-April 2015.

As reported, Belarus reduced the export of petroleum products to Russia in Jan-Mar 2020 by 19% year on year to $7 million, down 24.6% in physical terms to 8,600 tonnes.

Belarus and Russia agreed in April 2017 to abolish the mandatory supply of Belarusian petrol to Russia in the amount of 1 million tonnes per year.

The Belarusian Oil Company CJSC (Belarus’ special exporter of petroleum products) has been operating in the Russian market through its subsidiary European Trading Company LLC since 2012. Belarusian petroleum products are sold in Russia both under direct contracts and on the St. Petersburg International Commodity Materials Exchange and the St. Petersburg Exchange. End

Belarus’ sugar export up 8.5% in Jan-Mar 2020 to 94,103 tonnes

MINSK, May 19 – PrimePress. Belarus increased the sugar export in January-March 2020 by 8.5% year on year to 94,103 tonnes, the National Statistics Committee of Belarus (Belstat) reports.

In monetary terms, the export decreased in Jan-Mar 2020 by 31.7% to $27.197 million.

Belarus supplied 87,230 tonnes of sugar to the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) (up 0.6% yoy) worth $23.004 million (down 37.2%). Russia accounted for 48,692 tonnes (down 32%) worth $13.897 million (down 57.8%), Kazakhstan – 29,253 tonnes (up 340%) worth $8.296 million (up 180%).

Belarus exported sugar in Jan-Mar 2020 at an average price of $289 per tonne, down 37% yoy. The price for the CIS averaged $287 per tonne (down 37.6%), countries outside the CIS – $319 per tonne (down 42.1%). End

NBB’s currency rates as of May 20, 2020

MINSK, May 19 – PrimePress. The National Bank of Belarus (NBB) set on May 19 the following exchange rates of the Belarusian ruble (Br) against foreign currencies for May 20, 2020.

  Currency   Br
1 AUSTRALIAN DOLLAR AUD 1.5795
1 BULGARIAN LEV BGN 1.3522
100 UKRANIAN HRYVNA UAH 9.1092
10 DANISH KRONE DKK 3.5472
1 U.S. DOLLAR USD 2.4159
1 EURO EUR 2.6418
10 POLISH ZŁOTY PLN 5.8068
10,0000 IRANIAN RIAL IRR 5.7521
100 ICELAND KRONA ISK 1.6900
100 JAPANESE YEN JPY 2.2464
1 CANADIAN DOLLAR CAD 1.7336
10 CHINESE YUAN CNY 3.3988
1 KUWAITI DINAR KWD 7.8233
10 Moldovan Leu MDL 1.3576
1 New Zealand Dollar NZD 1.4686
10 NORWEGIAN KRONE NOK 2.4154
100 RUSSIAN RUBLE RUB 3.3382
1 SDR (Special Drawing Rights) XDR 3.2814
1 SINGAPORE DOLLAR SGD 1.7046
100 KIRGHIZ SOM KGS 3.1517
1,000 KAZAKH TENGE KZT 5.8136
10 TURKISH LIRAS TRY 3.5593
1 BRITISH POUND STERLING GBP 2.9574
100 CZECH KORUNA CZK 9.6251
10 SWEDISH KRONA SEK 2.4987
1 SWISS FRANK CHF 2.4863

End

For additional information or enquiries, please, contact Mr. Vladimir Kremyanko, First Secretary (v.kremyan[email protected], tel. 011 405 29 334)