A sharp increase in the import duty on cars expected next year will hit large automobile distributors hard, Alyaksandr Dzemidovich, chief sales manager at Volkswagen’s Belarus distributor, said at a conference in Minsk on November 11.
Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia plan to establish a customs union on January 1, 2010, a move that is likely to force the Belarusian authorities to raise the import duty on automobiles to Russia’s level.
Mr. Dzemidovich warned that the prices of both new and used cars would increase as a result. Experts predict that car prices might be raised by 20 to 60 percent following the establishment of the customs union, which would force many to drop their plans to buy an automobile from official distributors. Syarhey Drabyshewski, of the Atlant-M car retailer, noted that automobile sales had picked up following a slump earlier this year. In particular, he said, the company sold 170 cars in October compared with 120 cars in September and some 100 automobiles in August.
Car sales are likely to plunge in Belarus next January and February but may rebound if interest rates on car purchase loans are lowered, Dzmitry Hruzitski, deputy chairman of Fransabank, said at the conference.