Belarus and Russia will hold talks this week on the subject of export duties on crude oil and petroleum products, Sergei Shatalov, Russia's deputy finance minister, said at the Russian Economic and Financial Forum in Germany on November 29.
He said that the negotiations on the contentious issue would be held by Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin and his Belarusian counterpart, Uladzimir Syamashka. "If they manage to reach agreement, we will have a high degree of readiness [for a deal]," RIA Novosti quoted him as saying.
While talking to reporters in Moscow on October 19, Mr. Shatalov said that Russia was ready to scrap its duty on oil exported to Belarus in exchange for all revenues from Belarus’ export duty on petroleum products.
However, Mr. Syamashka said a few days later that Minsk could not agree to the proposal.
Mr. Syamashka described the proposal as "the worst for Belarus." He noted that the proposed system would be "just a little bit better than what we have now." Minsk expects Moscow to abolish the duty after the signing and ratification of major founding documents for a single economic zone of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia. Belarus plans to ratify them before the end of this year.