Moscow welcomes Minsk’s move to file a suit with the CIS Economic Court over the customs duty applied by Russia to exports of petrochemical products and "petrochemical raw materials" to Belarus, the newspaper Vremya Novostei said on Friday with reference to a source in the Kremlin.
"This is a good example showing that interstate issues should be settled in a civilized way rather than by pressure or with the help of smear campaigns," the newspaper quoted the source as saying. At the same time, the unnamed official said that bilateral talks could produce a quicker result. The hearing on the suit is likely to be lengthy, the official said.
The Belarusian justice ministry filed the suit on March 25, saying that international agreements concluded within the CIS and the Eurasian Economic Community, as well as bilateral agreements between Belarus and Russia "provide for duty-free trade," while Russia has been levying an export duty on deliveries of "petrochemical raw materials" and petrochemical products to Belarus since January 1, 2010.
"The Belarusian side has not received any distinct replies from the Russian side to its repeated requests to give legal grounds for such actions," it said. "The application of the export duty on petrochemical products that are used as chemical raw materials in continuous production processes has seriously hampered the deliveries of such petroleum products to the Republic of Belarus’ petrochemical companies and led to the complete suspension of some of them."
After weeks-long talks, Minsk and Moscow on January 27 struck a deal on this year`s crude oil deliveries. Under the agreement, Belarus will this year receive 6.3 million tons of oil duty-free for domestic consumption, but the rest of the amount to be supplied to Belarus will be subject to the full export duty rate unless the resulting petroleum products are brought back into Russia.
Minsk said that it was dissatisfied with the deal and would push for more favorable terms. The head of the CIS Economic Court’s secretariat told BelaPAN that the Court had received the suit. The chairperson of the Court must submit the papers along with an application for their examination to the board within 10 days, and the board will have 30 days commencing from the date of their receipt to decide whether the suit should be tried, Grachya Simonyan said.