Russian official wants Minsk to ‘cool down’ and update Union Agreement


Anton Siluanov and Sergei Shoigu. Photo by TASS

Siluanov has proposed to update the Union Agreement with Belarus on the basis of “deep integration”.

Russia is ready to discuss the creation of the Union State Agreement update with Belarus, said First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance of the Russian Federation Anton Siluanov, Interfax reports.

“We have created a working group, we need to analyze the text of the Union Agreement (signed in 1999), perhaps, suggest that it be updated,” Siluanov said in an interview with RBC-TV, answering the question of how the situation is developing around the dispute between Minsk and Moscow on compensation for the tax maneuver in the oil sector.

According to him, in recent years, “the movement towards the creation of the Union State has slowed down and was practically not implemented.”

He stressed that Russia “helps and will help” Belarus. Siluanov argues that the view that Russia in this dispute wants “to influence the solution of integration issues, some political problems” is inaccurate.

“It would be strange to give subsidies to enterprises of a foreign country. This could be done if we had a deeper degree of integration. If you want the same regime, let’s return to our Union Agreement,” said the Russian official.

He added that Russia still supports the Belarusian economy in the form of loans, duty-free oil supplies and preferential gas prices. “These are billions of dollars annually,” he noted.

In his opinion, the Belarusian partner “needs to cool down a little, look more broadly at the situation that has developed, sit down and work out joint solutions.”

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It is this topic that has recently come out on top of the bilateral agenda. In early November, Minsk and Moscow entered into an active phase of negotiations on a mechanism to compensate the Belarusian side for falling budget revenues due to the start of the implementation of the so-called oil tax maneuver in the Russian Federation. The mechanism provides for a phased reduction of export duties on oil and petroleum products.

The tax maneuver will lead to higher oil prices for Belarus and lower export duties on petroleum products. According to the Belarusian side, the budget losses from the tax maneuver in the Russian Federation in 2019 will be about $ 400 million, based on the price of oil at $ 70 per barrel. For the period 2019-2024, Minsk estimates losses at the level of $ 10.5 billion.

belsat.eu

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