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RF, Belarus to discuss NPS, assets privatization, oil trade

July 18, 2012, 7:40 UTC+3

The RF Finance Ministry had earlier expressed appprehensions that Belarus exported petroleum products under the guise of liquid organic solvents

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MOSCOW, July 18 (Itar-Tass) — During RF Premier Dmitry Medvedev's visit to Minsk for participation in a session of the Council of Ministers of the Union State of Russia and Belarus (USRB), the sides will discuss the construction of an Ostrovets nuclear power station (ONPS), the privatization of Belarusian assets, trade in petroleum products, and matters relating to cooperation after Russia's accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO).

The upcoming talks in Minsk are expected to deal not only with the successes in trade-and-economic cooperation and scientific and technical interaction but also with painful subjects, a Russian delegation source said.

"The Heads of Government are also to exchange views on how to implement the accords reached at the June 15 meeting in St Petersburg," the source said. "We shall tell them what we shall do and how, and which steps must be taken in view of Russia's entry into the WTO," he added.

When speaking of cooperation in individual sectors, the source specially pointed out the power industry: a general agreement on the construction of an NPS in Belarus is to be signed in Minsk. The Russian side will grant a credit of up to $10 billion for the purpose.

Upon recognizing that in the fuel and energy sector, "cooperation is of steady nature, and that there are no special problems with oil, and gas deliveries are carried out according to plan," the source made it clear that the recent scandal with the export of petroleum products from Belarus to third countries under the guise of solvents is still on the agenda.

The RF Finance Ministry had earlier expressed appprehensions that Belarus exported petroleum products under the guise of liquid organic solvents. RF Deputy Finance Minister Sergei Shatalov had said, "We have come to see that the export of liquid organic solvents from Belarus to the external market has sharply increased. We fear that this commodity is used as a disguise. It is not ruled out that petroleum products are exported under the guise of solvents."

The Russian delegation source went on to say, "The issue will be raised, for it is clear that such a sudden increase in export within 18 months -- nearly 11-fold -- raises questions. We have mechanisms for discussing the matter; there is an agreement which regulates the deliveries of oil and petroleum products; and there are compensatory payments in the Russian budget," the source said.

The findings of a departmental inquiry are also available with the Russian side. "The results of the inquiry are available and they are not very comforting," the source pointed out. At the same time he remarked that it was too early so far to draw final conclusions. "We must discuss the matter with them and we want to get answers to questions. Maybe, they will give positive answers which would obviate the need for some reaction," he said.

The Russian side will also draw attention to the fact that the privatization of Belarusian companies has slowed down. However, business experts are somewhat more categorical in their estimates: they are not quite satisfied with the pace of decisionmaking by the Belarusian side. "Russian budiness is unambiguously interesyed in a more marked pace of privatization. This also meets the Belarusian own interests, fot this normalizes the financial situation in the country and the budget receives additional revenue," the Russian delegation source said.

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