Belarus president signs Russia-led union's customs code as dispute with Moscow ends

By bne IntelliNews April 13, 2017

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has signed a new customs code of the Russia-led Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) after months of delay caused by feuding with Moscow over oil and gas supplies, border security and terms of membership of post-Soviet integration organisations.

The information about the move was confirmed by Lukashenko's spokesperson Natalya Eismont on April 12. She did not elaborate on the issue.

In December, Lukashenko refused to participate in a meeting of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council (SEEC) in St Petersburg attended by the presidents of Russia, Armenia, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan. During the event, the presidents signed the new customs code.

On April 3, Lukashenko met with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. After long talks in Moscow the sides said the months-long energy dispute would be resolved within ten days.

Since the start of July 2016, Russia supplied 40% less oil to Belarus, while the Russian state-controlled natural gas company Gazprom demanded settlement of a supply debt that started at $270mn and climbed beyond $700mn. According to Minsk’s statistics, Russian crude oil supplies to Belarus in 2016 declined by 20.8% year-on-year to 18.1mn tonnes.

Meanwhile, Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said on April 11 that Moscow could provide Belarus with a $1bn support loan.

The Belarusian authorities and the Russia-led Eurasian Fund for Stabilisation and Development (EFSD) agreed a new $2bn support package in 2016, however the Fund has suspended allocation of new tranches to Belarus after two tranches totalling $800mn were provided to Minsk.

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