Aleksandr Lukashenko holds session to discuss potash industry

  • 1
Belarus rejects the idea of establishing joint ventures in Moscow to sell potash fertilizers, Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko said at a session to discuss the potash industry on 6 March.

“Recently there have been some media reports alleging that Belarus and Russia have restored the joint sales company and are set to establish a new joint venture based in Moscow. I want to tell you categorically – it is a downright lie! I heard about it for the first time from these reports and I want to add only one thing – we will not establish any joint ventures headquartered in Moscow,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

At the same time the President remarked that Belarus is open for talks, fist of all, with its Russian partners. “We are ready to restore our cooperation and collaborate like we used to. However, if such a company is established, it will be headquartered in Minsk. We are not going to set up any foreign companies. We have learnt our lesson the hard way,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

According to Aleksandr Lukashenko, the goal of the meeting is to analyze the status of the potash industry and elaborate concrete measures to enhance the efficiency of the sector. “We should remember that the potash industry is one of the country’s biggest currency earners and generators of the budget revenues,” he said.

The President added that he would like to see a wider picture of the issues the Belarusian potash industry is facing with a new company emerging in Belarus and plans to develop a new deposit (Pripyatskoye).

“I think we have managed to reverse the situation and restore the sales. However, the flow of currency into the country is now yet good enough. But production and sales, especially in March, as the facts show, have been restored,” the head of state said.

Aleksandr Lukashenko noted that the past year was very difficult "because of the improper position of the owners and managers of Uralkali, which led to large losses of not only the Belarusian company but Uralkali as well, and which crashed the international potash market. “We were not ready for such a turn of events. It took us some time and hard effort to get out of the situation,” the President said.

He noted that in Q4 2013 the export of potash fertilizers in natural weight went up by 13% from the same period in 2012. According to him, an even greater increase was recorded in January-February of 2014 - 25% over the same period of 2013. "We think March will be a record high in terms of production and sale," the head of state said.

At the same time, the President expressed concern that given the increasing production volumes, the inflow of currency into the country has not yet been restored. Addressing the meeting participants, Aleksandr Lukashenko demanded to report to him what is being done to increase foreign exchange earnings, what the optimal sales strategy is taking into account the current trends in the international potash market, what Belarus’ pricing policy is and what is being done to consolidate the positions in the key markets, particularly in Brazil, India, and China.

Aleksandr Lukashenko asked about the measures being taken to improve the efficiency of the distribution network. "The State Control Committee says the number of mediators is increasing. This is unacceptable! If at some difficult point it was OK, today they need to go. We need direct contacts, not middlemen. If we still need intermediaries, they should be the barest minimum,” he said. He believes that a more vigorous use should be made of direct trade links producers and consumers of fertilizer. Better ways to solve the existing problems should be found.

The President was also interested in the staffing issue. “I would like to draw the attention of those who report to me that we allegedly have no good specialists in potash sales. Stop this nagging. We have enough highly-qualified people who know how to make a quality product and sell it. If our miners and specialists in Soligorsk make a good product and someone cannot sell it, such specialists are worthless. I just read these reports and place them aside. I do not believe them,” the President said.

“It is some kind of inaction: we have no specialists. We do and in a sufficient amount! They are in the Belarusian embassies abroad,” the head of state added. Aleksandr Lukashenko reminded the participants of the meeting that Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei and his deputy Valentin Rybakov had been instructed to look into the issue. The President asked to update him on the results.

The head state stressed that he wanted those present the meeting to make concrete proposals to raise the efficiency of the potash industry and to overcome negative tendencies.