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Press Release from Embassy of Belarus: 25 May 2020

May 25, 2020

Belarus registers 37,144 coronavirus cases, 204 deaths as of May 25, 2020

MINSK, May 25 – PrimePress. Belarus registered 37,144 confirmed coronavirus cases as of May 25, 2020, 204 people died, the Health Ministry of Belarus reports on its official Telegram channel.

14,449 patients have recovered and have been discharged from hospitals.

To compare, on Friday last week the number of registered coronavirus cases in Belarus reached 36,198; 199 patients died.

The Health Ministry reports 463,000 tests for the coronavirus infection as of May 25, 2020. End

Belarus’ economy to quickly recover once external quarantine is over – Lukashenko

MINSK, May 25 – PrimePress. Belarus will be able to quickly restore its economy, provided that other countries come out of quarantine imposed to withstand the coronavirus pandemic, President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko said at the meeting on socio-economic and political affairs held on May 25.

“Our economy is export-oriented. Therefore, a certain economic decline occurred. It was tolerable, which suggests that if the countries come out of quarantine more intensively than they do now (and this process has already begun, and no one will stop it, because people are outraged, they do not want to be isolated), then we would be able to quickly restore our economy,” said Lukashenko.

According to the president, many industries, such as agriculture, construction and IT, are on the rise. “The question with components that we could not procure and had to use all we had still stands. And, of course, we could not sell our products. On the plus side, we generated large inventories of finished goods, which we are selling now,” he said.

As reported, Belarus’ gross domestic product decreased in January-April 2020 by 1.3% year on year to Br41.092 billion ($17.1 billion at the rate of the National Bank of Belarus). Industrial output was down 3.8% in Jan-Apr 2020 to Br35.25 billion ($14.7 billion), while farm output increased 5.2% to Br3.992 billion ($1.66bn). The official GDP growth forecast for 2020 is 2.8%. End (Br2.3986/$1)

Lukashenko sees stabilization and decline in coronavirus incidence in Belarus’ regions

MINSK, May 25 – PrimePress. The coronavirus incidence dynamics has stabilized and shows a decline in some regions of Belarus, President Alexander Lukashenko said at the meeting on socio-economic and political affairs held on May 25.

“If this trend stands, we will say that with God’s help we have coped with this disease [COVID-19]. It began in the Vitebsk Oblast, which already reports a decrease in the number of cases,” he said.

According to the president, a similar situation is observed in Minsk. “We are already on a plateau, as doctors say. I’m not that optimistic, though, as I’m a superstitious person,” Lukashenko said, “Anyway, based on the recent developments, we can repurpose a number of healthcare institutions of Minsk back to their fields, including oncological and gynecological, and the emergency care hospital will soon return to normal operation.”

He said the situation has stabilized in the Minsk and Mogilev Oblasts. “Only the Brest and Gomel Oblasts will remain in this respect, and we must tightly monitor them. Experts say they were hit later than the others, and they will recover later, by a week or so,” Lukashenko said. End

Belarus’ new government to be formed before presidential election – Lukashenko

MINSK, May 25 – PrimePress. A new government of Belarus will be appointed before the presidential election, President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko said at the meeting on socio-economic and political affairs held on May 25.

The presidential election is scheduled for August 9, 2020. Sergey Rumas was appointed prime minister on August 18, 2018. The House of Representatives of the National Assembly of Belarus approved his appointment on October 5, 2018.

“We always announce a new composition of the government after the registration of the incumbent president as a candidate. Before the election. It is a matter of principle, so that people see with whom they would work, not that they voted for someone, and then he puts relatives, loved ones or whatever in offices. Therefore, we are to prepare a new composition of the government before the presidential election. The old one will either step down, or the president will dismiss it,” BelTA state newswire quotes him as saying.

“We appointed so many ministers six months ago, and saw them in action. And today we can see whether they can work in the new government or not. Time has come to take a look at the government, the senior officials that we have, and make decisions on them too,” said Lukashenko.

He thus stressed that he had no complaints to any of the ministers. “None of the government members should be offended or strained. I am sure that the vast majority of current members of government will stay in their offices,” the president said. End

Belarus prohibits sale of electronic smoking devices to minors

MINSK, May 25 – PrimePress. Belarus has prohibited the sale of electronic smoking systems and systems for tobacco consumption to persons under 18, as per presidential decree No.2 of May 21, 2020 posted on the National Legal Internet Portal on May 23, 2020.

Earlier, Belarus imposed a ban on the sale of tobacco products and liquids for electronic smoking devices to minors.

The ban on the sale of electronic smoking devices and systems for tobacco consumption is included in the regulation on production, circulation and consumption of tobacco and tobacco products, production, circulation and use of electronic smoking devices, liquids for electronic smoking devices, and systems for tobacco consumption, which was approved by presidential decree No.28 of December 17, 2002.

Violators will be fined 20 to 50 base units (Br540-1,350; $225.13-562.83 at the rate of the National Bank of Belarus), as per paragraph 12.17 of the decree, says the Ministry of Antimonopoly Regulation and Trade of Belarus.

This paragraph comes into force upon its official publication.

The decree is temporary, and, according to Section 101.3 of the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus, will be examined by the National Assembly of the Republic of Belarus for consideration. End (Br2.3986/$1)

Monday forex session: ruble down 0.04% against dollar to Br2.3995/$1

MINSK, May 25 – 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 Br2.3995/$1 to the dollar on May 25, down 0.04% 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 Br2.6133/€1 to the euro, up 0.15%; at Br3.3514/RUB100 to the Russian ruble, down 0.27%.

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%. End

Lithuania, Belarus sign nuclear accident alert agreement

MINSK, May 25 – PrimePress. Lithuania and Belarus signed an agreement on early warning of nuclear accidents on May 25, 2020 and exchanged information about nuclear facilities and their activities, the State Nuclear Power Safety Inspectorate (VATESI) of Lithuania reports.

The agreement provides for the immediate exchange of information in the event of a nuclear accident and emission of ionizing radiation hazardous to human health, as well as information on safety of nuclear facilities. Such agreements between neighbouring countries comply with the Convention on Early Notification of a Nuclear Accident.

Regardless of the agreement, Lithuania keeps raising questions about environmental protection and nuclear safety of the Belarusian nuclear power plant (Astravyets District, Grodno Oblast), and wants its commissioning stopped until all international requirements are met. The parliament of Lithuania considers the Belarusian NPP a threat to its national security.

Deputy Energy Minister of Belarus Mikhail Mikhadiuk reported in May 2020 that nuclear fuel for the first power unit was delivered to the NPP on May 6, 2020. Minister of Energy of Belarus Viktor Karankevich said that the reactor of the first power unit would be put into operation in July 2020, and energy would be supplied to the national grid from September or October 2020.

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

Rosatom Engineering Division completes fuel acceptance for first unit of Belarus’ NPP

MINSK, May 25 – PrimePress. Rosatom Engineering Division has completed the acceptance of nuclear fuel to be loaded into the reactor of the first power unit of the Belarusian nuclear power plant (Astravyets District, Grodno Oblast), the Russian company reports.

The incoming inspection was carried out by specialists of the Belarusian NPP in the presence of general contractor’s representatives and officers of the Nuclear and Radiation Safety Department of the Belarusian Emergencies Ministry (Gosatomnadzor).

The inspectors checked the accompanying documents, the external state of the containers, and the integrity of seals. Papers were signed to confirm the quality of the received fuel. All the fuel rod arrays will remain in the fresh nuclear fuel storage facility before they are loaded into the reactor of the first unit.

Deputy Energy Minister of Belarus Mikhail Mikhadiuk reported in May 2020 that nuclear fuel for the first power unit was delivered to the NPP on May 6, 2020. Minister of Energy of Belarus Viktor Karankevich said that the reactor of the first power unit would be put into operation in July 2020, and energy would be supplied to the national grid from September or October 2020.

 

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 discovers 2.5m tonnes of oil in two new deposits in Belarus

MINSK, May 25 – PrimePress. Belorusneft state concern (Rechitsa, Gomel Oblast) has discovered two new oil fields in Belarus with estimated total reserves of over 2.5 million tonnes, the company reports.

The Izbyn and North Omelkovshina deposits are located in the central structural zone of the Pripyat Trough (Khoyniki District, Gomel Oblast).

Belarus currently numbers 79 oil fields; 61 fields are under development.

As reported, Belorusneft plans to increase new oil reserves in 2020 to 1.71 million tonnes. In 2020, the company will conduct 3D seismic exploration in the area of ​​380 square kilometres. Belorusneft plans to increase oil production in 2020 by 1.18% year on year to 1.71 million tonnes.

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

Russia bans fuel imports until Oct 1, 2020

MINSK, May 25 – PrimePress. The Russian government has imposed a temporary ban on the import of petrol, diesel fuel and kerosene, and some other types of fuel into the country until October 1, 2020, says the Russian Cabinet of Ministers.

“In order to ensure energy security of the Russian Federation and stabilize the situation on the domestic fuel market, the Russian government decided to establish from the date this resolution comes into force until October 1, 2020 a temporary ban on the import of fuels into the Russian Federation,” reads the statement.

The ban also applies to marine fuels and gas oil. It does not apply to fuel transported through the Russian Federation in transit; fuel in technological tanks used along the route; fuel imported into the Russian Federation before the entry into force of this decision, in respect of which no actions related to customs declaration and release have been completed; fuel transported by individuals for personal use.

If necessary, line departments can change before June 15 the duration of the ban on fuel imports.

Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said on April 12 that a ban on the import of cheap petrol into Russia was proposed as a forced anti-crisis measure for six months and to support the domestic refining industry and save jobs. End

Ukraine sets anti-dumping duty on matches imported from Belarus and Russia

MINSK, May 25 – PrimePress. Following an anti-dumping investigation, the Interdepartmental Commission on International Trade of Ukraine set on May 22, 2020 an anti-dumping duty on matches at 21.32% for Belarus and 45.79% for Russia, the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade of Ukraine reports.

A complaint was filed with the Ministry of Economic Development on July 5, 2019 by one of the Ukrainian manufacturers of matches.

The anti-dumping investigation revealed that the import of matches from Russia and Belarus increased between 2016 and 2018 by 1.19% in absolute terms. The share of this import increased by 9.41% relative to Ukraine’s consumption and by 3.42% relative to output.

The import of matches from Belarus and Russia totalled over $3 million in 2018. The dumping margin of Russia stood at 65.4%, of Belarus – 22.5%. End

A1 testing 5G voice call technology

MINSK, May 25 – PrimePress. A1, Belarusian provider of telecom, ICT and content services, is testing voice call technology in the 5G network. The first call in Belarus and the Commonwealth of Independent States has been made in the 5G SA (Standalone) network in the test mode, the company reports.

The voice call technology was made possible through the introduction and testing of VoNR (Voice over New Radio) technology used for 5G batch voice transmission. The new technology ensures instant connection with the interlocutor and seamless transfer of the subscriber from the 5G network to the 4G network during a call. Also, thanks to VoNR, 5G high-speed mobile Internet can be used even during the call.

As reported, A1 launched the 5G SA network (Standalone) in the test mode on Oktyabrskaya Square in Minsk and in the Great Stone Industrial Park (Minsk Oblast) in partnership with Chinese ZTE. A feature of the network is its deployment without linking to 4G/LTE networks infrastructure.

Established in 1998, A1 unitary enterprise is now fully owned by A1 Telekom Austria Group. The mobile operator A1 started revenue service of its 3G network based on the HSPA/HSPA+ technology in March 2010. The operator made 4G mobile internet services available to customers in March 2019. Until Aug 1, 2019 the company had been operating under the velcom brand. Its subscriber base numbered 4.872 million people as of 1Q20. End

Belarus’ MTS teams up with A-100 Development to launch IoT-based waste collection project

MINSK, May 25 – PrimePress. Mobile TeleSystems LLC (Belarusian telecom operator and digital services provider) and A-100 Development (real estate developer) have implemented a pilot project for collecting garbage using the Internet of Things (IoT) technology in Novaya Borovaya (Minsk Oblast), MTS reports.

Smart bins with built-in IoT sensors can monitor the filling, which enables management organizations to optimize waste collection logistics and save man hours. Each bin is equipped with ultrasonic range finders, tilt angle meters and temperature sensors to show the location and filling levels.

A-100 Development is part of the A-100 Group engaged in real estate construction and operation.

Mobile TeleSystems LLC (MTS) was registered in Belarus on April 4, 2002. The operator is a joint venture between Russia’s largest mobile operator Mobile TeleSystems (MTS) and Belarus’ Beltelecom operator. The companies hold respective stakes of 49% and 51% in the joint venture.

MTS Belarus started providing GSM 900/1800 standard services in June 2002, and launched 3G revenue service in May 2010 and 4G revenue service in December 2015. The operator’s subscriber base totals 5.5 million. End

Belarus raises some cigarette prices June 1, 2020

MINSK, May 25 – PrimePress. Belarus will raise maximum retail prices of some brands of cigarettes on June 1, 2020 by 1.3% to 8.3%, according to the data of excise tax payers posted on the website of the Tax Ministry of Belarus.

The price of the Davidoff Refine White and Davidoff Refine Black brand cigarettes increases by 8.3% to Br3.25 ($1.35 at the rate of the National Bank of Belarus) per pack; Davidoff Classic, Davidoff Gold and Davidoff Gold Slims – by 1.3 to Br3.9 ($1.62) per pack; some sorts of the Winston brand – by 3.1% to 3.3% to Br3.15-3.35 ($1.3-1.4), Sobranie Evolve Gold – by 3% to Br3.45 ($1.44); most sorts of the Dove brand – by 1.5-3.4% to Br1.3-1.57 ($0.54-0.65) per pack.

Also, prices of cigarettes that will be available from June 2020 will change. The price of the Pall Mall Nano Green brand cigarettes is set at Br2.4 ($1); Kent Crystal Blue and Kent Crystal Beat – Br2.89 ($1.2); Dove Menthol Superslims – Br1.38 ($0.57) per pack.

Cigarette prices were announced by three manufacturers–GTF Neman OJSC, Tabak Invest LLC and Inter Tobacco LLC–and two importers–Belarustorg state-owned enterprise and Energo Oil CJSC. Prices were raised by GTF Neman OJSC, Tabak Invest LLC and Belarustorg.

As previously reported, Belarus raised prices of some sorts of cigarettes on May 1, 2020 by 1.2-7%. End (Br2.3986/$1)

NBB’s currency rates as of May 26, 2020

MINSK, May 25 – PrimePress. The National Bank of Belarus (NBB) set on May 25 the following exchange rates of the Belarusian ruble (Br) against foreign currencies for May 26, 2020.

  Currency   Br
1 AUSTRALIAN DOLLAR AUD 1.5695
1 BULGARIAN LEV BGN 1.3374
100 UKRANIAN HRYVNA UAH 8.9262
10 DANISH KRONE DKK 3.5078
1 U.S. DOLLAR USD 2.3995
1 EURO EUR 2.6133
10 POLISH ZŁOTY PLN 5.8000
10,0000 IRANIAN RIAL IRR 5.7131
100 ICELAND KRONA ISK 1.6822
100 JAPANESE YEN JPY 2.274
1 CANADIAN DOLLAR CAD 1.7174
10 CHINESE YUAN CNY 3.3623
1 KUWAITI DINAR KWD 7.7654
10 Moldovan Leu MDL 1.3556
1 New Zealand Dollar NZD 1.4639
10 NORWEGIAN KRONE NOK 2.3958
100 RUSSIAN RUBLE RUB 3.3514
1 SDR (Special Drawing Rights) XDR 3.2678
1 SINGAPORE DOLLAR SGD 1.6836
100 KIRGHIZ SOM KGS 3.1983
1,000 KAZAKH TENGE KZT 5.7888
10 TURKISH LIRAS TRY 3.5223
1 BRITISH POUND STERLING GBP 2.9242
100 CZECH KORUNA CZK 9.5957
10 SWEDISH KRONA SEK 2.4800
1 SWISS FRANK CHF 2.4691

 

May 22, 2020

Belarus registers 34,303 coronavirus cases as of May 22, 2020, 190 dead

MINSK, May 22 – PrimePress. Belarus registered 34,303 coronavirus cases as of May 22, 2020, the Health Ministry of Belarus reports on its official Telegram channel.

12,833 recovered patients have been discharged from hospitals.

Yesterday, the ministry reported 33,371 registered coronavirus cases and 185 deaths in Belarus.

The Health Ministry says over 419,000 tests for the coronavirus infection have been conducted in Belarus as of May 22. End

World Bank okays €90m loan for Belarus to combat coronavirus

MINSK, May 22 – PrimePress. The World Bank has approved a €90 million package to help Belarus take effective and timely action to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic by strengthening the country’s national healthcare system, according to a press-release posted on the WB web site.

The project will address the health system’s immediate needs for medical equipment, supplies, and training to treat severe cases of COVID-19, including through provision of modern ventilators, pain medication, and antibiotics, as well as personal protective equipment for health workers.

Furthermore, the project will finance communications activities to promote social distancing and hygiene best-practices that can prevent the spread of infections among the population.

“This project will help save the lives of Belarusians by providing critical equipment to the health sector,” said Alex Kremer, World Bank Country Manager. “It will have the most impact when combined with social distancing measures, including preventing large gatherings, reducing physical presence in workplaces and educational establishments, and reducing non-essential movements, all of which will save lives and help mitigate longer-term economic impacts. The earlier such measures are implemented, the better the outcomes for people’s lives and livelihoods.”

The project will also strengthen public health laboratories and epidemiological capacity for early detection, confirmation, and reporting of cases. It will finance medical supplies and equipment to help detect COVID-19, including testing kits, personal protective equipment, laboratory reagents, and training. In addition, the project will help with the acquisition and distribution of modern ambulances and essential ambulance equipment.

As previously reported, Alex Kremer said there was a high chance that Belarus would have a national epidemic of the COVID-19 coronavirus. In his words, the country can resist the spread of the disease by preparing medical personnel for a sharp increase in viral pneumonia, and also promote social distancing.

Since the Republic of Belarus joined the World Bank in 1992, lending commitments to the country have totalled $1.9 billion. The active investment lending portfolio financed by the World Bank in Belarus includes nine projects totalling $942.71 million. End

Belarus’ 2025 GDP target unchanged at $100 billion – Economy Ministry

MINSK, May 22 – PrimePress. Belarus’ end-of-2025 target for GDP still stands at $100 billion, said Economy Minister Alexander Chervyakov.

“One shouldn’t forget that the end-of-2025 guidance for GDP growth is clearly defined: $100 billion. It is primarily due to the necessity to achieve a wage level that will reduce labour migration and preserve our human resource potential and improve people’s welfare. Building an economy that is capable of achieving this level is a key task for all of us,” Chervyakov said in an interview with the state-run Respublika daily.

In his words, now that the conditions have changed, the Belarusian authorities will have to reassess previously defined drivers of economic growth. “In particular, not so long ago, tourism and transport were seen as promising drivers of growth, but now we have to reconsider these positions,” said Chervyakov.

“If we talk about the main sectors – industry and agriculture, the food industry will be less subject to transformation. Automotive, machine building, instrumentation and optics, chemistry and petrochemicals will remain priority sectors because of the importance of the products they produce to ensure the lives and safety of our people. It is very important to retain the necessary competencies that we have in these industries, and understanding that our country should remain an industrial state – this is our advantage and perspective,” said Chervyakov.

At the same time, in his opinion, it is necessary “to look at those systemic problems that exist in industry”. In particular, he mentioned low efficiency of many enterprises, high costs, non-optimized technological and business processes.

“Under current conditions, with a sharp decline in customer orders and revenues, it is necessary to retain personnel and competencies. It is better to pay two-thirds of the salary according to the legislation in case of forced idle time than to produce to stock, which would wash away companies’ circulating assets. Of course, this is an extreme measure, it is unpopular, but in these conditions it is economically rational. In addition, the reduction of non-core assets, optimization of production areas and other measures can serve to reduce costs,” Chervyakov said. End

Belarus’ Economy Ministry plans to recoup economic decline at the expense of agriculture, food industry

MINSK, May 22 – PrimePress. The Economy Ministry of Belarus plans to recoup the economic decline through the sustainable work of agriculture and the food industry, said Economy Minister Alexander Chervyakov.

As previously reported, Belarus’ gross domestic product decreased by 1.3% year on year in January-April 2020 to Br41.092 billion ($17.2bn at the rate of the National Bank of Belarus). Industrial output was down 3.8% year on year in Jan-Apr 2020 to Br35.25 billion ($14.8bn). Farm output grew by 5.2% year on year in Jan-Apr 2020 to Br3.992 billion ($1.7bn).

“At present we are taking all measures to ensure a full recovery of the economy by the end of the year. The government is working on a set of appropriate measures. There is a task to prevent economic decline,” Chervyakov said in an interview published in the state-run Respublika daily.

“Our forecasts and calculations were made on the assumption that the quarantine measures at our trading partners will last about three months. Now that many countries have started quarantining, the closing period has actually decreased to one month. In this regard, we estimate that negative trends will prevail in May and June, and starting from July, the economy as a whole will begin to recover. And the fact that our country has not gone into quarantine played a significant role here. Otherwise it would have been much harder to “rev up” the economy,” said Chervyakov.

In his words, the Economy Ministry also expects that the oil refining industry will get fully restored, taking into account the agreements on oil supply. “There are no problems in the work of the construction complex. There are certain concerns about the production of machinery and equipment, but I think that the use of public procurement contracts, the promotion of exports and domestic consumer will allow us to safely pass this period,” Chervyakov said. End

New edition of currency exchange regulation law passes second reading at Belarus’ parliament

MINSK, May 22 – PrimePress. The lower chamber of Belarus’ parliament passed in the second reading on May 21 a new version of the law on currency exchange regulation and currency control aimed at liberalizing the foreign exchange regulation and de-dollarizing the economy, the press office of the lower chamber of Belarus’ parliament reports.

The bill amends the powers and rights of the National Bank in the field of foreign exchange regulation, provides for the possibility of currency restrictions that may be imposed by the government together with the National Bank in the event of a threat to national economic security, and establishes the main provisions for monitoring foreign exchange operations by the National Bank.

The bill states the intention to abolish the deadlines for recovery of foreign exchange proceeds under foreign economic agreements, remove restrictions on opening accounts with foreign banks by residents, and lift restrictions on residents’ foreign exchange transactions related to capital flows.

This is aimed at phased harmonization and convergence of approaches to monetary policy in the EEU member states (Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Russia). End

Friday forex session: ruble down 0.54% against dollar to Br2.3986/$1

MINSK, May 22 – 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 Br2.3986/$1 to the dollar on May 22, down 0.54% 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 Br2.6172/€1 to the euro, down 0.06%; at Br3.3424/RUB100 to the Russian ruble, up 0.66%.

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%. End

Belarus’ A1 telecom operator conducting test run of standalone 5G network

MINSK, May 22 – PrimePress. A1, Belarusian provider of telecom, ICT and content services, has launched 5G SA (Standalone) network on Oktyabrskaya Square in Minsk City and in the territory of the Great Stone Industrial Park (Minsk Oblast). The network is currently operating in a test mode, the company said in a press-release.

The operator also plans to organize a test zone in the territory of the Minsk Arena multifunctional facility, as well as a mobile base station near the Sports Palace in Minsk.

A1 has used the 3.5 GHz range to launch 5G SA services. The test launch of 5G network by A1 has been there to demonstrate a more than tenfold increase in network capacity and data transmission speed compared to the 3G/4G networks currently used by the operator.

A1 initially used an independent architecture to build its proprietary 5G network, said Christian Laque, A1 Chief Technology Officer.

Eventually, the project to deploy A1’s 5G test network was carried out in partnership with China’s ZTE.

“Our joint 5G laboratory with A1 will soon be launched at the Great Stone Industrial Park to test network equipment and applications for vertically integrated markets,” said ZTE Director Wei Wei.

Established in 1998, A1 unitary enterprise is now fully owned by A1 Telekom Austria Group. The mobile operator A1 started revenue service of its 3G network based on the HSPA/HSPA+ technology in March 2010. The operator made 4G mobile internet services available to customers in March 2019. Until Aug 1, 2019 the company had been operating under the velcom brand. Its subscriber base numbered 4.872 million people as of 1Q20. End

MTS Belarus testing 5G network in Minsk

MINSK, May 22 – PrimePress. MobileTelesystems LLC (MTS Belarus), a Belarusian mobile operator and provider of digital services, has launched a 5G SA network in Minsk, which is currently operating in a test mode, says the company’s press-release.

The network was built by MTS specialists on a proprietary infrastructure using Huawei equipment. Data transfer between subscribers and management of the base station is carried out only by means of the 5G network. The pilot zone is deployed in two ranges – 1800 MHz and 3500 MHz at Minsk Arena. While testing the base station, the data transmission speed in the 3500 MHz range reached 1.472 Gbit/sec.

Test 5G network can create the basis for a subsequent commercial launch in Belarus. In the future the introduction of 5G technology will accelerate the transition to mass use of IoT devices in the field of energy, healthcare, industry and housing and communal services, control of robotic devices, unmanned vehicles.

MTS was registered in Belarus on April 4, 2002. The operator is a joint venture between Russia’s largest mobile operator Mobile TeleSystems (MTS) and Belarus’ Beltelecom operator. The companies hold respective stakes of 49% and 51% in the joint venture.

MTS Belarus started providing GSM 900/1800 standard services in June 2002, and launched 3G revenue service in May 2010 and 4G revenue service in December 2015. The operator’s subscriber base totals 5.5 million. End

Poland’s Orlen unlikely to buy state-owned stake in Mozyr refinery – Belneftekhim

MINSK, 22 May – PrimePress. Belarusian state-run petrochemical industries concern Belneftekhim so far cannot see a possibility for Poland’s Orlen to acquire a state-owned stake in the Mozyr Refinery (Gomel Oblast), says Belneftekhim press officer Alexander Tishchenko.

As previously reported, Polish analyst Mateusz Tsabak stated in an article on Biznesalert.pl about the expediency of merging together the Polish oil refineries Orlen and Lotos. In his opinion, the merged company could buy a stake in the Mozyr refinery, especially since the Belarusian government is interested in attracting a strategic investor to the enterprise. Tsabak believes that Poland could become such an investor, as both Polish refineries are shareholders in the Gdansk Oil Port, through which alternative oil deliveries to Belarus are possible.

“It is unlikely that Poland’s Orlen will dare to make such proposals, considering it has unsettled debts to the Belarusian company Gomeltransneft Druzhba. Litigation in this matter is fundamentally delayed, while the solution is literally on the surface: either they compensate with money or with what is left of the pipe itself,” said Tishchenko. The official is are talking about the long-standing court dispute between Gomeltransneft Druzhba and Orlen Lietuva on compensation for the technological oil, which was drained in 2015 from the section of the northern branch of the Druzhba pipeline closed in 2006, which the Belarusian side considers its own. We are talking about compensation of $84 million from the Orlen Lietuva oil pipeline.

At the same time, Tishchenko stressed that the unresolved dispute remains the only obstacle to the implementation of the project to restore oil transit to Belarus in the Lithuanian section of the Druzhba pipeline.

An energy source told PRIME in April that Belarus planned to start pumping oil via a pipeline running from Poland for its Mozyr refinery until the end of 2020 to get about 100,000 tonnes per month.

Prior to that, President Alexander Lukashenko said that Belarus and Poland had been negotiating supplies, including of American and Saudi oil, via the port of Gdansk (Poland) and then through the pipeline to the refineries. End

Belarus Economy Ministry says large producers must have SMEs among suppliers

MINSK, 22 May – PrimePress. The Economy Ministry of Belarus deems it necessary to oblige large producers to have small and medium businesses (SMEs) among their suppliers, said Economy Minister Alexander Chervyakov.

“We consider it necessary to develop a regulatory act in the near future, binding large producers to include small and medium businesses among their suppliers, which will be able to provide at least 10-15% of supplies on a competitive basis. And we need to actively use this instrument, especially in terms of import substitution,” Chervyakov said in an interview published in the state-run Respublika daily.

Chervyakov said that the Economy Ministry has been analyzing the SMEs situation in three areas: receiving information from regulatory agencies, the regions and directly from business enterprises.