Commentary by Alla Kolomiets, Deputy Director for International Cooperation, Obolon Corporation
The trade turnover between Ukraine and Belarus reached 6 billion US dollars in 2011. Nevertheless the negative trade balance of Ukraine totaled more than 2 billion US dollars. What are the reasons behind these statistics?
It is obvious that Belarus products are invading the Ukrainian market. There are numerous signboards all over Kyiv saying “Meat from Belarus”, “Belarus Furniture”, etc. Ukrainian drivers fuel their vehicles with petrol produced in Belarus. And even Ukrainian beverage companies use packaging delivered from Belarus.
As I see it, the Belarus government is implementing a policy aimed at increasing exports to Ukraine while maintaining protective trade barriers and restrictions against the flow of Ukrainian goods.
Let’s discuss the situation on the beer market. The Belarus government has applied unfair non-market methods to Ukrainian manufacturers since 2010. As a result Ukrainian brewing companies were forced to increase prices for their products 1.5-1.65 times as much. As a result Ukrainian beer has become prohibitively expensive and non-competitive in the Belarus market even in comparison with imported beer.
The Belarus government has pursued a trade policy that has discriminated against Ukrainian manufacturers for more than two years. Such a policy contributed, among other things, to a drastic reduction in export volumes of Obolon JSC by 4.2 times in 2011, compared to 2009. Ukrainian brewing companies have urged Ukrainian and Belarus authorities to make Belarus fulfill its obligations under interstate agreements, which prohibit any export restrictions. Unfortunately, our efforts have yet to produce any meaningful results.
It is even more disappointing taking into account the fact that Belarus saw an increase in beer exports by 22% and beer consumption – by 19.2% in 2011. The grim statistics also show that export volumes of Ukrainian beer to Belarus dropped by 78% in 2011. What else is there to say? We strongly believe that it is necessary to reach a fair and effective solution to this issue, from which both Ukraine and Belarus consumers of the amber beverage will benefit.