“I will never agree to form a joint venture with Uralkali on previous terms after what they have done. Maybe with another owner, but under no circumstances under the current policy,” Belaruskali CEO Valerii Kirienko told reporters in Minsk on Monday.
Responding to rumors that the Belarusian Potash Company may rise from the ashes and Belarus and Russia would mend fertilizer fences, CEO Kirienko sounded very much like PotashCorp CEO Bill Doyle who downplayed the influence of any single company on global potash pricing. But Uralkali struck the first tender, securing a modest offtake agreement with China for 2013. Belaruskali has since aligned with Qatar export venture, Muntajat, but has used the transition period for routine maintenance.
Potash revenues account for a great deal of Belorussian President Lukashenko's war chest, and human rights activists are calling for stricter sanctions against the Soviet-bloc throwback, including sanctions on potash movements.
"Both the EU and the US have approved sanctions against the regime of Alexander Lukashenko, which has been recognized as a dictatorship, and is responsible for systematic human rights violations. However, the sanctions are not effective in Europe, with the volume of trade between the EU and Belarus increasing every year," says Dmitry Shehigelsky, a Belarusians in Exile (BIE) co-founder. "We call upon the EU to use sanctions against the state-owned companies which generate the largest profits for the Belarusian government machine, primarily exporters of crude oil, potash, and chemicals. All the necessary laws are already in place, and these sanctions will be the most effective leverage to ensure respect for human rights in Belarus."
As Belarus looks to capitalize on domestic potash resources, the cards are stacking against a free flow of exports through E.U. Ports. But a new dance partner in Qatar offers access to Ports along the Persian Gulf, opening trade avenues to China and South America and suggests Lukashenko just might get to have his potash, and sell it too.
Photo credit: mb7art / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND