Belarus suspends import of Ukrainian beer

Beer imports from Ukraine have been suspended because of the failure of importers to meet the licensing requirement...

Beer imports from Ukraine have been suspended because of the failure of importers to meet the licensing requirement recently introduced by Belarusian authorities, according to BelaPAN’s sources.

By its April 18 directive, the Council of Ministers of Belarus made imports of beer from countries outside the Customs Union of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia subject to licensing. To obtain a license, importers have to sign agreements on the minimum prices of beer with Belarusian authorities.

Ukrainian breweries have not yet agreed with Belarus on the minimum prices of their beer. The breweries fear that they will be priced out of the Belarusian market if they agree to Minsk’s terms.

According to the Belarusian government’s statistics, imported beer accounted for 30.1 percent of Belarus’ beer market in the first three months of 2014.

The import of beer reportedly increased by 18 percent year-on-year in the first three months to total 3,190,000 decaliters, with 1,860,000 decaliters coming from Russia and 1,200,000 decaliters from Ukraine. Small shipments of beer were imported from Germany, the Czech Republic, Ireland, and Baltic countries.

Speaking at a government conference on April 10, Alyaksandr Lukashenka described Belarusian beer as better and healthier than imported beer, and said that the country needed to take measures to limit the share of imports in the domestic beer market.

The Minsk city government subsequently ordered all retailers not to sell imported beer until the conclusion of the May 9-25 Ice Hockey World Championship, according to media reports.

Russia is currently the only major exporter of beer to Belarus. Czech, Irish and German beer is imported in small amounts and is too expensive to compete with Belarusian brands.