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Press Release- Embassy of Belarus : 06 July 2020

July 1, 2020


Belarus registers 62,424 coronavirus cases, 398 deaths as of Jul 1, 2020


MINSK, Jul 1 – PrimePress. Belarus registered 62,424 confirmed coronavirus cases as of July 1, 2020; 398 people died, Belarus’ Health Ministry reports on its official Telegram channel.


47,553 patients have recovered and have been discharged from hospitals.


As reported, the number of registered coronavirus cases in Belarus reached 62,118 on the previous day; 392 patients died.


The Health Ministry reports 1.013 million tests for the coronavirus infection as of July 1, 2020. End



Belarus-EU visa facilitation, readmission agreements take effect Jul 1, 2020


MINSK, Jul 1 – PrimePress. Belarus-EU visa facilitation and readmission agreements entered into force on July 1, 2020. They simplify the procedure for obtaining Schengen visas, reduce their cost for Belarusian nationals to €35 euros, and regulate the rights of migrants from other countries.


The parties signed the visa facilitation and readmission agreements in January 2020 in Brussels, exchanged ratification notifications in May.


According to the visa facilitation agreement, the cost of the Schengen visa for Belarusians is reduced to €35; many visa procedures are simplified; visas will be issued or denied within 10 days after an application is filed. The consideration period may be extended to 30 days in some cases or reduced to two days. Many categories of individuals may obtain visas for free, depending on the purpose of the trip. Multiple visas with a longer validity period may be issued in a simplified manner.


The cost of a Belarusian visa for EU citizens is also reduced to €35. The list of grounds for issuing free visas for non-commercial purposes has been expanded. The duration of stay of foreigners in Belarus has doubled from 90 to 180 days in one year.


According to the readmission agreement, Belarus and the European Union undertake to return to their territory their citizens, third-country nationals and stateless persons who do not meet the criteria for legal stay established by the parties.


Currently, the implementation of the visa agreement in full is complicated due to the anti-pandemic restrictions imposed by third-country nationals on the entry into the EU. Since July 1, citizens of only 14 states are allowed to enter the EU. Belarus is not among them. End



Union State Council of Ministers may resume consideration of integration roadmaps in 2020 – Russian ambassador


MINSK, Jul 1 – PrimePress. The Council of Ministers of the Belarus-Russia Union State may get back to the discussion of integration road maps in 2020, Russian Ambassador to Belarus Dmitry Mezentsev told reporters on July 1.


He said the Union Council of Ministers will hold a meeting on calendar plans of the Union State this year. Its provisional agenda has already been addressed at a meeting of the high-level intergovernmental group. “It is important that requests of both parties be taken under advisement whenever possible to resume integration talks, get back to the roadmaps and an action plan to implement the Union Treaty,” Mezentsev said.


Ambassador of Belarus to Russia Vladimir Semashko said in early June that Belarus was willing to resume integration talks in September-October, and that 28 roadmaps had already been agreed upon.


“Economic integration does not threaten the independence or sovereignty of Belarus and Russia. Today we are talking about new positioning, enhanced competitiveness, and facilitated exports of commodities to the markets of third countries,” said the ambassador.


As reported, the governments of Belarus and Russia initialled in September 2019 a program to step up integration within the Union State, and approved a list of 31 roadmaps that were expected to be drafted and adopted by November. Presidents Alexander Lukashenko and Vladimir Putin were going to approve the entire package of integration documents on December 8, 2019 during the celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Union State, but never did. According to Belarus, the parties failed to reach accessory agreements on prices for Russian energy commodities, compensation for Belarus’ losses from the tax manoeuvre in the Russian oil sector, and lifting of restrictions on the Russian market for Belarusian exports. President Lukashenko refused to endorse the roadmaps unless these fundamental economic issues are resolved.


Semashko said on June 4, 2020 that the package was not signed particularly because the parties did not achieve real progress in energy talks, did not remove trade barriers and did not provide equal economic conditions and guarantees to business entities of Belarus and Russia. Semashko also cited Russia’s ban on the import of automotive fuel, which hits Belarusian exporters. According to the ambassador, in addition to restrictions on participation in public procurement, Belarusian enterprises periodically encounter meat, dairy and vegetable “wars” in the Russian market. End



Belarus, Russia likely to open joint border this summer – Mezentsev


MINSK, Jul 1 – PrimePress. Belarus and Russia may lift the entry and exit restrictions imposed amid the COVID-19 pandemic in the summer of 2020, Russian Ambassador to Belarus Dmitry Mezentsev told reporters on July 1.


Belarusian Ambassador to Russia Vladimir Semashko said earlier that the Russian Federation would lift the restrictions on cross-border movement in late July or early August.


“Of course, we hope that Ambassador Semashko was not mistaken, but even if he did, we hope that free movement across the non-existent Russian-Belarusian border of friendship will resume as soon as possible. I believe that this will, of course, happen this summer,” said Mezentsev.


He said that diplomats of both countries should not even involuntarily exert pressure on the chief sanitary inspector of Belarus and Rospotrebnadzor in this respect.


“I am truly convinced that virologists and sanitary inspectors should determine grounds for relaxing the requirements to facilitate cross-border movement for the people,” he said. End



EEU prime ministers plan to meet on Jul 17 – Mezentsev


MINSK, Jul 1 – PrimePress. The meeting of the prime ministers of the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) is expected July 17, 2020. The format of the meeting has not been specified, Russian Ambassador to Belarus Dmitry Mezentsev told reporters on July 1.


“We expect that a meeting of the EEU prime ministers will be held on July 17 in whatever format suitable. It will certainly be a step towards strengthening of the Union,” Mezentsev said.


The Eurasian Economic Union is an international integration economic association that has been operating since January 1, 2015. It unites Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. Belarus performs EEU presidency functions in 2020. End



Belarus, Russia may agree on gas price alignment by Jan 1, 2022 – Semashko


MINSK, Jul 1 – PrimePress. Belarus and Russia can agree on levelling the prices of Russian gas for Belarus and the Smolensk Region of Russia, which now stands at around $70 per 1,000 cubic meters, by January 1, 2022, Ambassador of Belarus to Russia Vladimir Semashko told reporters on July 1.


“Frankly speaking, we are not satisfied with the current price [$127 per 1,000 cubic meters]. We see that our position is understood, and we believe that the goal that we set to ourselves in 2017 [bringing the gas price closer to the price for the Smolensk Region of Russia] may be achieved by January 1, 2022,” BelTA state newswire quotes Semashko as saying.


He said the intergovernmental agreements signed in November 2011 on the sale of Beltransgaz covered pricing and gas transit. “They were signed with a view to obtain gas prices if not equal, then very close to Russia’s domestic ones,” Semashko said.


The agreements were fixed by the protocol to the intergovernmental agreement on gas supplies signed in April 2017.


“It clearly determined that in order to achieve comparable prices, we were supposed to draft a Union State pricing methodology by the end of 2018, in fact, a methodology for a single market launch, and finish domestic approvals before January 1, 2020 and sign an agreement on gas pricing before July 1, 2019 to reach an open-ended agreement. We have repeatedly proposed different methods, but, regretfully, this agreement was not reached,” said Semashko.


As a result, the price of gas for Belarus at the Russian border is twice the price for the Smolensk Region.


As reported, in late May, Gazprom stated its readiness to begin negotiations on gas supplies to Belarus from 2021 onwards upon resolution of the debt issue. Gazprom estimates Belarus’ debt for supplied gas at $165.6 million.


The Ministry of Energy of Belarus says there is no such debt, but there is a disagreement between business entities on determining the cost of gas “taking into account its calorific value.” The ministry sent proposals to Gazprom on a revision of the terms of gas supplies in 2020 and the pricing methodology for the period from January 1, 2021.


The ministry said that disagreements on determining the cost of supplied natural gas based on its calorific value arose between Beltopgaz, Naftan refinery and Gazprom Transgaz Belarus. To resolve these disagreements, the Ministry of Energy of Belarus considers it necessary that Gazprom Transgaz Belarus provide Beltopgaz with a methodology for calculating the actual average monthly calorific value of natural gas with metrological confirmation of its suitability in accordance with Belarus’ legislation.


Gazprom said on June 8 that the gas price for Belarus in 2020 would not be revised, and confirmed its willingness to start negotiations on supplies in 2021, provided that Belarus respects the terms of the contract in force.


Belarus’ import of Russian gas totals 20 billion cubic meters per year. Belarus remains the second largest consumer of Russian gas after Germany. In February 2020, Miller and Belarusian Ambassador to Russia Vladimir Semashko approved the pricing procedure for the supply of Russian gas to Belarus in 2020. The price for Belarus remained at $127 per 1,000 cubic meters, which is the same as in 2019. Belarus has been insisting that Russian gas for Minsk should equal Russia’s domestic prices, as provided for by the 2011 agreement on the sale of Beltransgaz gas transmission company to Gazprom. After oil quotations dropped in 2020 and so did gas prices on the European spot markets (to $80 per 1,000 cubic meters), Lukashenko argued that, given the global situation, the Russian gas tariff for Belarus should be at $40-45 per 1,000 cubic meters, including logistics costs. End



Belarus not to drop claims for compensation for Russian tax manoeuvre – Semashko


MINSK, Jul 1 – PrimePress. Belarus does not remove compensation for losses it incurred due to the tax manoeuvre in the Russian oil industry from the agenda of Belarusian-Russian negotiations, Ambassador of Belarus to Russia Vladimir Semashko told reporters on July 1.


“Compensation of losses from the tax manoeuvre remains on the agenda, because this hits our economy,” BelTA state newswire quotes Semashko as saying.


According to the ambassador, Belarus considers the tax manoeuvre in the oil industry of Russia a serious infringement of bilateral agreements on the energy supply regulation and the baseline agreements on the establishment of the Eurasian Economic Union, which do not allow domestic duties.


Semashko said that the Ministries of Finance of Belarus and Russia had nearly agreed on a protocol on inter-budgetary compensation for the premiums paid to Russian companies that supply oil to Belarus. Previously, the parties set to reduce the premium from $11.7 to $4.7 per tonne. According to the Russian Finance Ministry, the amount of such inter-budgetary compensation from the Russian budget would total around $60 million in 2020.


As reported, the tax manoeuvre in the oil and gas industry of the Russian Federation provides for gradual zeroing of the export duty on oil with a simultaneous increase in the tax on mineral extraction. The marginal duty rates calculated by the Russian government are multiplied by 0.833 in 2019, 0.667 in 2020, in 0.5 in 2021, 0.333 in 2022, and 0.167 in 2023. Russia will abolish the export duty on oil from 2024.


Belarus’ Finance Ministry estimates the total loss incurred by the oil refining industry in 2020 due to the tax manoeuvre at $400 million.


During the 2019 talks on Belarus-Russia integration, the latter agreed to compensate for losses from the tax manoeuvre by subsidizing the reverse excise tax for the Belarusian refineries (Mozyr Oil Refinery OJSC, Gomel Oblast, and Naftan OJSC, Novopolotsk, Vitebsk Oblast), but only if the taxation laws of the two countries were unified, and the unified tax code was planned to be put into effect in January 2022 at the earliest. End



Wednesday forex session: ruble down 0.50% against dollar to Br2.4243/$1


MINSK, Jul 1 – PrimePress. Following the bidding at the single forex session of the Belarusian Currency and Stock Exchange (BCSE) in the format of a continuous two-way auction, the Belarusian ruble stood at Br2.4243/$1 to the dollar on Jul 1, down 0.50% on the previous day of trading, says the BCSE official report.


Following the bidding at the single forex session on Wednesday, the ruble stood at Br2.7228/€1 to the euro, down 0.58%; at Br3.4159/RUB100 to the Russian ruble, up 0.19%.


As previously reported, the National Bank of Belarus (NBB) on June 1, 2015 stopped the practice of fixing the exchange rate of the Belarusian ruble to the basket of foreign currencies on a day-to-day basis and switched over to FX trading on the Belarusian Currency and Stock Exchange (BCSE) in the format of a continuous two-way auction.


The parties taking part in continuous two-way auctions at the BCSE are free to make bids and offers during the entire auction period, however deals will be made if the FX trading system bridges bids with relevant offers.


The weighted average rate of the US dollar, the euro and the Russian ruble shall be the National Bank’s official exchange rate of the relevant currency for the day that follows the day of trading.


At the moment, the exchange rate of the Belarusian ruble is pegged to the basket of foreign currencies, with the share of the Russian ruble standing at 50%, the US dollar – 30%, the euro – 20%. End



Tabak-Invest starts production of Winston Compact Dream Mix cigarettes under JTI licence


MINSK, Jul 1 – PrimePress. Tabak-Invest LLC (Minsk) began production of Winston Compact Dream Mix cigarettes in Belarus under the JTI licence, Japan Tobacco International EsAndDi (JTI) reports.


Winston Compact Dream Mix cigarettes are available in a compact format, featuring market’s first banana-flavoured capsules, sweet filter paper and a charcoal filter with an air chamber. The tar/nicotine yield is 6/0.5 mg per cigarette.


Retail sales of Winston Compact Dream Mix cigarettes began this week. The maximum retail price in July is set at Br2.8 ($1.16 at the rate of the National Bank of Belarus) per pack.


JTI started operating in Belarus in 1998. JTI was the first international company to start manufacturing international brand cigarettes at the facilities of Tabak-Invest LLC. The Minsk-based factory produces Sobranie, Camel, Winston, LD, and Monte Carlo cigarettes. End



Belarus lowers refinancing rate by 0.25 pp to 7.75% per annum Jul 1, 2020


MINSK, Jul 1 – PrimePress. The National Bank of Belarus (NBB) lowered the refinancing rate on July 1, 2020 by 0.25% percentage points to 7.75% per annum; overnight loan and deposit rates – by 0.25 percentage points to 8.75% per annum and 6.75% per annum, respectively.


According to the National Bank, this is done taking into account the slowdown in inflation: consumer prices grew by 4.9% in annual terms in May 2020 against 5.4% in April 2020. The annual core inflation rate slowed down to 3.9% from 4.5% in April 2020.


The National Bank also points at the restraining effect of disinflationary factors, which has been greater that projected. Inflation processes in Belarus’ partner countries have been decelerating faster. Against this backdrop, foreign central banks are actively reducing their key rates.


The NBB continues easing the monetary policy. “Maintaining moderately mild terms of the monetary policy helps remain at an acceptable level of the price and financial stability,” the bank says.


As reported, at the meeting on measures to support the real sector of the economy held on June 19, President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko demanded that the National Bank relax its monetary policy, ensure growth in lending to the economy and reduce the cost of credits. He instructed Chairman of the Board of the National Bank Pavel Kallaur to lower the refinancing rate before July.


Previously, the NBB lowered the refinancing rate on February 19, 2020 by 0.25 percentage points to 8.75% per annum and on May 20, 2020 by 0.75 percentage points to 8% per annum. End



Belarus applies international standards of auditing since Jul 1, 2020


MINSK, July 1 – PrimePress. Belarus has been applying International Standards of Auditing (ISA) and the Code of Ethics for Professional Accountants adopted by the International Federation of Accountants of the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) since July 1, 2020, as per government resolution No.308 of May 25, 2020.


The International Standards of Auditing include standards for reviews; international assurance standards; international standards for audit related services; international quality control standards; international audit practice reports; documents providing for amendments to international auditing standards.


International auditing standards will be binding upon the audit of the annual financial statements of business entities drawn up in accordance with International Financial Reporting Standards. End



NBB’s currency rates as of Jul 2, 2020


MINSK, Jul 1 – PrimePress. The National Bank of Belarus (NBB) set on Jul 1, 2020 the following exchange rates of the Belarusian ruble (Br) against foreign currencies for Jul 2, 2020.


  Currency   Br
1 U.S. DOLLAR USD 2.4243
1 EURO EUR 2.7228
10,0000 IRANIAN RIAL IRR 5.7721
10 Moldovan Leu MDL 1.4134
1 New Zealand Dollar NZD 1.5642
1 SDR (Special Drawing Rights) XDR 3.3351
100 KIRGHIZ SOM KGS 3.1892
1,000 KAZAKH TENGE KZT 5.9645
100 CZECH KORUNA CZK 10.1926

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