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Press Release from Embassy of Belarus : 29 May 2020

May 27, 2020

 

Belarus registers 38,956 coronavirus cases, 214 deaths as of May 27, 2020

MINSK, May 27 – PrimePress. Belarus registered 38,956 confirmed coronavirus cases as of May 27, 2020, 214 people died, the Health Ministry of Belarus reports on its official Telegram channel.

15,923 patients have recovered and have been discharged from hospitals.

As previously reported, the number of registered coronavirus cases in Belarus reached 38,059 a day before; 208 patients died.

The Health Ministry reports 485,500 tests for the coronavirus infection as of May 27, 2020. End

Belarus-EU visa facilitation agreement may enter into force July 1, 2020

MINSK, May 27 – PrimePress. The Belarus-EU visa facilitation agreement may come into force on July 1, 2020, the EU Council reports on its official website.

EU member states approved facilitation and readmission agreements on May 27, 2020. Previously, they were approved by the European Parliament.

Belarus and the European Union are to exchange instruments of ratification and thereby complete the ratification. Belarus will be notified of the conclusion of these agreements, which will enter into force on the first day of the second month after notification, possibly, on July 1, 2020.

Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of the Interior of Croatia Davor Božinović says visa statistics testify to the growing importance of relations between the EU and Belarus. “In 2019, the number of applications for Schengen visas in Belarus reached almost 650,000. The visa facilitation is an important step in relations between our peoples, and will help strengthen our economic, cultural and scientific ties,” he says.

As reported, Belarus had ratified procedures for the visa facilitation and readmission agreements with the EU on April 9.

The agreements were signed on January 8, 2020 in Brussels. The visa agreement provides for a reduction in the cost of Schengen visas for Belarusians to €35. Many visa procedures will become easier. Visas will be issued within ten days (up to 30 days if additional verification was required). Visa fees will not be charged to some categories of individuals, depending on the purpose of the trip. Multiple visas will be issued for a longer period in a simplified manner.

Belarusian visa for EU nationals will also fall in price to €35. Also, the list of grounds for issuing free visas for non-commercial purposes will be expanded. The length of stay of foreigners in Belarus will double from 90 days within a year (now) to 180 days.

Under the readmission agreement, Belarus and the EU will return to their territory their citizens, third-country nationals and stateless persons who do not meet or no longer meet the criteria of legality in each other’s territories. End

Belarus and Russia should strictly adhere to oil and gas agreements – Russian prime minister

MINSK, May 27 – PrimePress. Belarus and Russia should strictly adhere to oil and gas agreements, Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said in a telephone talk with Prime Minister of Belarus Sergey Rumas on May 27, the press office of the Russian government reports.

“When discussing energy cooperation, Mikhail Mishustin emphasized the importance of strict implementation of bilateral agreements that determine the parameters of interaction in the oil and gas sector. He cited the Belarusian nuclear power plant (Astravyets District, Grodno Oblast) as a positive example,” reads the report.

The premiers reaffirmed the commitment of the two states to greater integration and efforts to promote economic cooperation and raise the living standards. They also discussed measures to withstand the COVID-19 pandemic and mitigate its impacts.

 

Rumas thanked Russia for the prompt response to Belarus’ requests, including regarding food supplies.

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.End

Ukraine and Belarus to hold 3rd Forum of Regions in October 2020 in Grodno

MINSK, May 27 – PrimePress. Ukraine and Belarus plan to hold the third Forum of Regions in October 2020 in Grodno, Chairman of the Economics Committee of the Grodno Oblast Executive Committee Alexander Komendant said during the online conference ‘Ukraine-Belarus: Economic Cooperation in the face of Global Challenges’ held on May 27.

The date of the forum has not been specified. Ad hoc groups are choosing the sites and pavilions for exhibitions.

The parties plan 15 events, including meetings of the heads of state, heads of regional delegations, and a regular session of the advisory council, said Komendant.

As reported, the 2nd Forum of Regions of Belarus and Ukraine was held on October 3-4, 2019 in Ukrainian Zhytomyr. End

NBB specifies cash-out procedures in trade and service outlets

MINSK, May 27 – PrimePress. Resolution No.155 of the Board of the National Bank of Belarus (NBB) issued on May 18, 2020 expands possibilities of using bank payment cards and enhances protection of operations of their holders, NBB reports.

Cash may be withdrawn at store cash desks from June 5

Resolution No.155 enables acquirer banks and trade (service) organizations to include in the contract the cash-out procedure and terms for cardholders in trade (service) organizations. In accordance with resolution No.290/11 of the Council of Ministers and the National Bank of May 15, 2020, from June 5, 2020, cash withdrawals to cardholders can be carried out in trade and service organizations located in rural areas, small urban settlements and outside populated localities. This service can be provided from January 1, 2022 in the entire territory of the Republic of Belarus.

Cash withdrawal at cash desks in trade and service outlets will be possible if there is a sufficient amount in the account and cash available in the cash register.

As reported, one-time cash withdrawal must not be over five base units (Br135, $56.2 at the rate of the National Bank of Belarus; one base unit equals Br27, $11.2).

Cardholders not to pay exchange differences

Resolution No.155 determines the procedure of accounting of operations in Belarusian rubles with foreign banks, for example, non-cash fare payments to Yandex.Taxi or Uber, or payments for goods, works or services outside Belarus, if the price is indicated in Belarusian rubles.

All operations performed in Belarusian rubles will be indicated in the account accessed through the bank card in Belarusian rubles in an amount equal to the price of the goods, works or services, excluding exchange differences arising due to the involvement of the foreign bank.

Banks to notify clients of significant changes

Additional requirements are introduced to the card-issuing bank to ensure completeness and timeliness of the transmission of data related to the provision of banking services.

Card holders will be notified without fail of any change in “sensitive” terms of the card (credit) agreement, such as bank fees charged to the client, if the card-issuing bank is to notify the client of such changes, in electronic form only (SMS, push notification, instant messengers, e-mail, Internet banking, or mobile banking).

In case of unsanctioned operation, the client (individual) may apply for free to the card-issuing bank for a reversal, the National Bank says.

The resolution comes into force upon its official publication. End (Br2.402/$1)

BUCE abolishes requirement to brokers to have at least two traders from June 1

MINSK, May 27 – PrimePress. From June 1, 2020, the Belarusian Universal Commodity Exchange (BUCE) will no longer require that brokers have at least two traders. The number of traders per broker is not limited, says BUCE Spokesman Roman Yaniv.

This follows the establishment of a new procedure for accreditation of professional exchange brokers at BUCE. The changes concern not only potential, but also operating brokerage organizations, which, according to the new procedure, will have to pass annual accreditation.

In order to simplify the accreditation procedure and improve the quality of brokerage services, a scoring system is introduced for both applicants, wishing to accredit as a broker, and brokers already working at BUCE, including non-residents of the Republic of Belarus.

To become a stock exchange broker or pass annual accreditation, the applicant need to score 24 or more points based on the results of the assessment. The number of points awarded depends on compliance with a number of criteria. For example, an applicant company will receive 3 points for each engaged Belarusian organization not previously accredited with BUTB, and 5 points for a foreign company.

If a potential broker has tax arrears, he or she will automatically lose 10 points.

These innovations will not apply to brokers who have entered into an exchange service agreement with BUCE before June 1, 2020.

The Belarusian Universal Commodity Exchange OJSC was established in 2004. The first auction took place on June 2, 2005. At present, BUCE numbers about 40 exchange brokers, including 14 non-residents from 11 countries. End

Wednesday forex session: ruble down 0.29% against dollar to Br2.409/$1

MINSK, May 27 – 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 Br2.409/$1 to the dollar on May 27, down 0.29% on the previous day of trading, says the BCSE official report.

Following the bidding at the single forex session on Wednesday, the ruble stood at Br2.6425/€1 to the euro, down 0.63%; at Br3.3935/RUB100 to the Russian ruble, down 0.46%.

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’ Emergency Ministry approves safety standards for NPP

MINSK, May 27 – PrimePress. The Ministry of Emergency Situations of Belarus has approved rules and regulations for ensuring nuclear and radiation safety during the commissioning of nuclear power plants, which apply to all stages of the full life cycle of nuclear power plants established by legislation in the field of atomic energy use (MES resolution No.15 of April 13, 2020 posted on the National Legal Internet Portal on May 27).

In accordance with the resolution, nuclear power plants must have safety systems for emergency reactor shutdown and maintenance in a subcritical state, emergency heat removal from reactors, and retention of radioactive substances within established boundaries.

Each nuclear power plant must have storage facilities for fresh nuclear fuel, spent nuclear fuel radioactive waste. The capacity of storage facilities for spent nuclear fuel must be adequate for complete unloading of nuclear fuel at any time during NPP unit operation.

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

Belarus reduces Russian gas import by 10.8% in Jan-Mar 2020 to $672.8m

 MINSK, May 27 – PrimePress. Belarus reduced the import of Russian natural gas by 10.8% year on year in January-March 2020 to $672.8 million, according to the official statistics report.

In physical terms, Belarus’ import of Russian gas in Jan-Mar 2020 reduced by 10.8% year on year to 5.2 billion cubic meters.

The average price of Russian gas imported by Belarus in Jan-Mar 2020 did not change, standing at $130 per 1,000 cubic meters.

As reported, Belarus reduced the import of Russian natural gas in 2019 by 0.3% year on year to 20.261 billion cubic meters. End

Belarus’ crude oil import down 73.8% in Jan-Mar 2020 to $434m

MINSK, May 27 – PrimePress. Belarus reduced the import of crude oil in January-March 2020 by 73.8% year on year to $434 million, the National Statistics Committee of Belarus (Belstat) said in a report.

In physical terms, the oil import was down 57.7% year on year in Jan-Mar 2020 to 1.905 million tonnes.

The average price of oil imported to Belarus decreased in Jan-Mar 2020 by 38.1% year on year to $228 per tonne.

Belarus reduced the import of oil from Russia by 74.8% to $417.7 million. Belstat did not indicate the physical volume of Russian oil imported to Belarus in Jan-Mar 2020.

Oil supplies from sources alternative to Russia in Jan-Mar 2020 is not specified either.

Belarus purchased 538 tons of oil from Kazakhstan for $195,300 in January 2020 at $370 per tonne. Belarus did not buy oil from Kazakhstan in January 2019.

In January-March 2020, both Belarusian oil refineries (Naftan OJSC, Novopolotsk, Vitebsk Oblast, and Mozyr Oil Refinery OJSC, Gomel Oblast) reduced refining in January-March 2020 by 41.6% yoy to 2.76 million tonnes.

As reported, Russia cut oil supplies to the Belarusian refineries in January-March 2020 by 77% yoy to 1.037 million tonnes: 252,500 tonnes to the Mozyr Refinery against planned 3.355 million tonnes; 784,400 tonnes for Naftan against planned 3.439 million tonnes. Belarus and Russia have been failing to agree on long-term oil contracts due to oil price disagreements since late 2019.

As reported, Belneftekhim state petrochemical concern planned to process 5.9 million tonnes at the Mozyr Refinery and Naftan in the first quarter of 2020.

In December 2019, Belarus and Russia approved an oil supply plan for 2020 in the amount of 24 million tonnes, but the Belarusian refineries still have no long-term contracts with Russian suppliers.

Belarus reduced the import of Russian oil in 2019 by 3.5% year on year to $6.58 billion; in physical terms – by 1.4% to 17.998 million tonnes. The average price for Belarus stood in 2019 at $365.64 per tonne, down 2.2% against 2018. End

Belarus raises export duties on oil and oil products June 1, 2020

MINSK, May 27 – PrimePress. Belarus’ export duties on oil and oil products exported outside the customs territory of the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) will increase from June 1, 2020, as per government resolution No.316 of May 26, 2020 posted on the official website of the government.

The export duty on crude oil will rose on June 1, 2020 to $8.3 from $6.8 per tonne. The zero duty on oil supplied under EEU FEACN codes 2709009001 and 2709009003 remains unchanged. The duty on oil supplied under EEU FEACN code 2709009002 increases from $1 to $1.2 per tonne.

The duty on light and medium distillates, benzene, toluene, xylenes and lubricating oils increases from $2 to $2.4 per tonne; waste oil products, vaseline, paraffin and oil bitumen – from $6.8 to $8.3 per tonne.

The duty on commercial gasoline increases from $2 to $2.4 per tonne; straight run gasoline – from $3.7 to $4.5 per tonne.

The duty on diesel fuel increases from $2 to $2.4 per tonne.

The duty on fuel oil increases from $6.8 to $8.3 per tonne.

The duty on liquefied natural gases remains at 0%.

Since October 1, 2011, following Russia, Belarus has been calculating export duties on oil and oil products by the 60/66 formula, i.e. the rate of export duties on light and dark oil products is unified and is calculated with a 0.66 factor to the rate of the duty on oil. End

Belarus and Russia still plan to abolish roaming in September – Telecom Ministry

MINSK, May 27 – PrimePress. Belarus and Russia are still planning on abolishing roaming in September 2020 despite the situation with COVID-19, being behind schedule of the first two roadmap stages, says the Ministry of Communications and Informatization of Belarus.

The parties have been working on the abolition of roaming in the Union State since 2017. They approved a roadmap in December 2019 to abolish charges on incoming calls before September 2020. No changes to the roadmap are planned, Russian RIA Novosti news agency quotes the ministry as saying.

The roadmap provides for the simultaneous entry into force of the agreements reached in September 2020 following the implementation of three stages: first, to set a single international interconnection rate for roaming calls in mutual payments by telecom operators of the two countries; second, to lower inter-operator wholesale tariffs for international roaming services (voice, SMS, data transfer); third, to set subscription retail tariffs for international roaming services.

The Telecom Ministry says telecom operators will sign 22 agreements once the first and second stages have been completed.

The first and second stages of the roadmap are yet in progress, and the schedule is not met for now due to the difficult epidemiological situation and the lockdown in Russia, which slows down the paperwork.

The Telecom Ministry says several first-stage agreements have already been signed, and coordination of most second-stage agreements is nearing completion. The third stage is expected to be completed in August. End

MTS Belarus reports 19.3% increase in proceeds in 1Q20 to Br281.2m

MINSK, May 27 – PrimePress. Belarus’ mobile operator MTS says its business proceeds increased 19.3% in the 1st quarter of 2020 on the year to Br281.2 million ($117.1 million at the official rate of the National Bank).

MTS Belarus attributes its growing proceeds in Belarus’ market to growing sales of mobile data services and retail sales.

OIBDA grew 18.1% year on year in 1Q20 to Br151.2m ($62.9m). The operator’s net proceeds were up 8.8% in 1Q20 to Br74.5m ($31m).

The number of subscribers in 2018 was up 3.1% to 5.7 million.

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 on June 27, 2002; launched 3G revenue service in May 2010 and 4G revenue service in December 2015. The operator’s subscriber base totalled 5.7 million as of Jan 1, 2020. End (Br2.402/$1)

Eurotorg to double share of online business in revenues to 10%

MINSK, May 27 – PrimePress. Belarus’ largest retailer Eurotorg LLC intends to double the share of its online business in the company’s revenue from 5% to 10% in the next 5-10 years, says Eurotorg CEO Andrei Zubkov.

Eurotorg reported a 48% increase in revenues from online services in March 2020, as consumers took social distancing precautions amid the coronavirus pandemic. The average check grew by one-third, and this growth accelerated in the first half of May.

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

NBB’s currency rates as of May 28, 2020

MINSK, May 27 – PrimePress. The National Bank of Belarus (NBB) set on May 27 the following exchange rates of the Belarusian ruble (Br) against foreign currencies for May 28, 2020.

  Currency   Br
1 AUSTRALIAN DOLLAR AUD 1.6082
1 BULGARIAN LEV BGN 1.3581
100 UKRANIAN HRYVNA UAH 8.9251
10 DANISH KRONE DKK 3.5613
1 U.S. DOLLAR USD 2.4090
1 EURO EUR 2.6425
10 POLISH ZŁOTY PLN 5.9919
10,0000 IRANIAN RIAL IRR 5.7357
100 ICELAND KRONA ISK 1.7662
100 JAPANESE YEN JPY 2.2377
1 CANADIAN DOLLAR CAD 1.7542
10 CHINESE YUAN CNY 3.3680
1 KUWAITI DINAR KWD 7.8034
10 Moldovan Leu MDL 1.3614
1 New Zealand Dollar NZD 1.5002
10 NORWEGIAN KRONE NOK 2.4491
100 RUSSIAN RUBLE RUB 3.3935
1 SDR (Special Drawing Rights) XDR 3.2879
1 SINGAPORE DOLLAR SGD 1.7027
100 KIRGHIZ SOM KGS 3.2510
1,000 KAZAKH TENGE KZT 5.8378
10 TURKISH LIRAS TRY 3.5549
1 BRITISH POUND STERLING GBP 2.9737
100 CZECH KORUNA CZK 9.8274
10 SWEDISH KRONA SEK 2.5185
1 SWISS FRANK CHF 2.4845

 

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