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Friday October 25, 2013 MYT 5:00:02 PM
Friday October 25, 2013 MYT 5:01:11 PM
MINSK (Reuters) - Russia may agree to scrap more than $3 billion (1 billion pounds) in annual oil products duties for Belarus if Minsk lifts unspecified trading barriers, President Vladimir Putin said.
Russia and Belarus have been involved in a trade spat over the arrest of the head of Russian potash maker Uralkali in Minsk in August.
Recent comments suggest that Moscow's stance in the row is softening.
Russia ships, duty-free, around 20 million tonnes (147 million barrels) of crude oil a year to Belarus as a part of a customs union agreement.
In turn, Belarus exports oil products, duty for which is diverted to Russia's budget.
Annual revenues from the duty is around 100 billion roubles ($3.2 billion).
Minsk has asked Russia to scrap the duty, saying that it violates the regulation of the Moscow-led custom union, which includes Belarus and Kazakhstan.
"We understand that it is important for our partners to scrap this withdrawal (of taxes) connected to the oil products... We are ready. It is a loss for our budget, but we are ready to do it, we expect our partners would make some concessions for us as well," Putin said during a meeting in Minsk on Thursday.
He didn't specify, which concessions he expects from Minsk.
Russia has announced that it will cut crude oil supplies to Belarus in the fourth quarter by over 40 percent to 3.1 million tonnes against the background of the potash row.
Russia's First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov said that Putin and Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko were expected to discuss the crude supplies. The outcome of their meeting has not been yet revealed.
Shuvalov said that Russia is ready to scrap the duty for oil product exports from Belarus from January 2015.
($1 = 31.6820 Russian roubles)
(Reporting by Darya Korsunskaya and Andrei Makhovsky; writing by Vladimir Soldatkin; editing by Jason Neely)
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