India shows interest in Belaruskaliy
Besides, Indian Potash Ltd is interested in a long-term agreement on the supply of potassium chloride from Belarus. On August 27, 2011 the Indian Governments and Belarus signed a protocol concerning the examination of the possibility to conclude a long-term contract for buying potassium and India’s equity position in Belaruskaliy (this concerns a minority interest).
In aletter from the Indian Minister, it is stated that “within the implementation of the protocol the IPL takes on long-term responsibilities to buy Belarusian potassium and the IFFCO will be involved in the conduct of due diligence in relation to the possibility of purchasing a share of Belaruskaliy”.
The IPL company that supplies more than 60% of the Indian potassium market is a strategic partner of the BPC (Belarusian Potassium Company), an exclusive Belaruskaliy and Uralkaliy production exporter. India covers its demand in potassium fertilizers fully due to import, purchasing about 5 mln. tons of fertilizers annually. That is why the Ministry urges market players to buy potassium assets and create joint ventures with fertilizer producers abroad.
In our opinion, the probability that Belaruskaliy shares will be sold to residents of India seems low, as a minority interest will not allow them to influence the pricing and merchandising policies of the Belarusian enterprise. However, it should be admitted that the financial capabilities of the Indian Government are now substantial (by April 27, 2012 the Indian gold and foreign currency reserves reached USD295.361 bln.).
For reference. According to Belstat the production of potassium fertilizers in Belarus in the first quarter of 2012 decreased by 12.1% to 1.269 mln. tons compared with the first quarter of 2011. This was caused by the decreased demand for potassium fertilizers on foreign markets.
Thus in January-February 2012, Belarus abridged the export of potassium fertilizers compared with the same period of the previous year twofold to 377.2 thousand tons. In monetary terms in January-February of the current year the export supplies of potassium fertilizers dropped by 40% to USD285.581 mln. the average potassium fertilizers price grew in January-February 2012 compared with January-February 2011 by 22.1% to USD757.1 per one ton.
JSC Belaruskaliy is one of the world’s largest producers of potassium mineral fertilizers. All 100% of shares belong to the Government. The enterprise functions on the basis of the Starobin potassium salts deposit and comprises four mining departments, auxiliary shops and service subdivisions. It employs 18.589 thousand people. The share of the enterprise in world export exceeds 16%. The production is supplied to more than 50 countries. Belarusian Potassium Company deals with all exports.
Belarusian Potassium Company is an exclusive supplier of potassium fertilizers produced by JSC Belaruskaliy (Soligorsk) and JSC Uralkaliy (Perm region, Russia) to foreign markets. The BPC was established in 2005. Shareholders of the company are Belaruskaliy (45%), Belarusian Railway (5%) and Uralkaliy (50%). The BPC is the largest supplier of potassium fertilizers on the world market the company’s share makes up 42% of the world market volume.
Over the past year, military-political relations between Minsk and Kyiv have become complicated. Due to their high inertia and peculiarities, this downward trend would be extremely difficult to overcome.
The root cause of the crisis is the absence of a common political agenda in the Belarusian-Ukrainian relations. Minsk is looking for a market for Belarusian exports in Ukraine and offers its services as a negotiation platform for the settlement of the Russo-Ukrainian war, thereby hoping to avoid political issues in the dialogue with Kiev. Meanwhile, Ukraine is hoping for political support from Minsk in the confrontation with Moscow. In addition, Ukraine’s integration with NATO presupposes her common position with the Alliance in relation to Belarus. The NATO leadership regards the Belarusian Armed Forces as an integral part of the Russian military machine in the western strategic front (the Baltic states and Poland). In addition, the ongoing military reform in Ukraine envisages a reduction in the number of generals and the domestic political struggle makes some Ukrainian top military leaders targets in politically motivated attacks.
Hence, the criticism of Belarus coming from Ukrainian military leadership is dictated primarily by internal and external political considerations, as well as by the need to protect the interests of generals, and only then by facts.
For instance, initially, the Ukrainian military leadership made statements about 100,000 Russian servicemen allegedly taking part in the Russo-Belarusian military drill West-2017. Then the exercises were labelled quazi-open and military observers from Ukraine refused to provide their assessment, which caused a negative reaction in Minsk. Further, without citing specific facts, it was stated that Russia was building up its military presence in Belarus.
Apparently, the Belarusian and Ukrainian Defence Ministries have entangled in a confrontational spiral (on the level of rhetoric). Moreover, only a small part of the overly hidden process has been disclosed. That said, third states are very likely to take advantage of the situation (or have already done so). This is not only about Russia.
The Belarusian Defence Ministry officials are restrained in assessing their Ukrainian counterparts. However, such a restraint is not enough. Current military-political relations between Belarus and Ukraine are unlikely to stabilise without the intervention of both presidents.