Belarus will continue insisting on abolishing export duty on crude oil within the customs union of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia, First Deputy Prime Minister Uladzimir Syamashka told reporters Wednesday following Belarusian-Russian oil supply talks in Moscow.
Under an agreement reached as the result of some two months’ negotiation marathon, 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 reportedly demanded that all Russian oil deliveries to Belarus be free of duty, explaining that this would meet the spirit of agreements recently reached by Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia to form the customs union.
The signed agreement "will not live for long," Mr. Syamashka said. "It is nonsense that within the customs union, we establish quotas as to how much may be delivered duty-free and how much should be subject to duty…. Goods should move freely within the customs union. I think the Russian side realizes this. We should return to this matter once again and I think there will be considerable radical changes."
Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin, who led the Russian delegation to the talks, noted at a following meeting with President Dmitry Medvedev that the establishment of the customs union would require additional discussions on export-related issues. Russia’s relations with its partners will be based on the principles of equality and its national interests, he added.