Solvent exports reported to have stopped on October 6
Belarus stopped exporting solvents only on October 6, Pavel Fyodorov, Russia's deputy minister of energy, said in Moscow on Friday.
The deputy minister accused Belarus of breaking its promise to supply motor fuel made of Russian crude oil to Russia, according to the Agency of Oil Information.
Mr. Fyodorov's remarks contradict an earlier statement by Belarusian Prime Minister Mikhail Myasnikovich, who said on September 14 that Belarus stopped exporting solvents on August 4.
Russian officials have repeatedly expressed concern about a dramatic increase in the export of solvents from Belarus this year, saying that Belarus may be exporting diesel fuel and other petroleum products under the guise of solvents, diluents and lubricants in order to avoid transferring the export duties it collects to Russia.
"We are confronted with the fact that the export of organic solvents from Belarus has increased several times," Russian Deputy Finance Minister Sergei Shatalov said in late June. "We fear that this merchandise is being used as a cover for exporting petroleum products."
"Belarus should levy duty on the export of oil and petroleum products from its territory and transfer the collected amount into the treasury of the Russian Federation," Mr. Shatalov said, noting that this system compensated for Russia’s losses only partially.
While visiting Minsk on July 18, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said that if there were violations of agreements in the export by Belarus of petroleum products, those responsible should be brought to account.
"We agreed to thoroughly sort everything out and make decisions even if they are very difficult," Mr. Medvedev said, pointing out that "the economic interests should be restored."
Russia’s Federal Customs Service has reported that Belarus’ export of solvents and diluents jumped 8.6-fold from 242,000 tons in 2010 to 2,073,000 tons in 2011, whereas Russia exported only 16,900 tons.
According to official data, in the first half of 2012, the export of solvents and diluents increased 4.9-fold year-on-year and that of lubricants 47 times.
Belarus expects Russia to take a constructive approach to the export of solvents and diluents, Prime Minister Mikhail Myasnikovich told reporters in mid-September.
"Alyaksandr Lukashenka said that if this [the export of solvents] was worrisome to our Russian partners, we should stop these deliveries," Mr. Myasnikovich said. "And we did that. The last tank car carrying the so-called solvents left the territory of Belarus on August 4. If our strategic partners have doubts, they shouldn’t suspect us of unconscionable practices, we stop this activity. We undertook this commitment and abide by it."
According to Mr. Myasnikovich, Minsk told Russia that Belarus had not violated any provisions of the Customs Code of the Customs Union, but if Russia had doubts, the parties could consider imposing duties or quotas, and Russia replied that this would be done after the current situation was sorted out.