Potash transit via Lithuania cannot be suspended – Udovickij - BNS SPECIAL

  • 2021-12-09
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS – The transit of Belarusian potash fertilizers via Lithuania cannot be suspended as that would run counter to international agreements of Lithuania, the EU and US, says Igor Udovickij, the majority shareholder of Biriu Kroviniu Terminalas (Bulk Cargo Terminal, BKT) which handled around 11 million euros worth of fertilizers produced by Belaruskali every year.

"There are no and there cannot be any US sanctions for Belarusian potash transit via Lithuania since transit, as a procedure, cannot be subject to sanctions," Udovickij said in a comment sent to BNS on Thursday.

In his words, all states, including the United States, are subject to international treaties – the World Trade Organization agreement and the United National Convention on the Law of the Sea. They guarantee the freedom of transit for states without sea access.

"Naturally, having ratified these agreements, the US and the EU cannot violate them and do not violate them," the BKT owner said.

Moreover, he pointed out, the Seimas of Lithuania has ratified three bilateral agreements between Lithuania and Belarus and they set the regime for the freedom of transit of Belarusian cargo via Lithuania and its port of Klaipeda.

All those involved in the transit of potash fertilizers, including Lithuanian state institutions, have consulted the US Department of the Treasury and the European Commission on the application of the sanctions, Udovickij said. And they were explained that Belarusian potash can be taken via Lithuania, if payments are made in euros, not US dollars.

"Therefore, our actions are completely legitimate and coordinated," said Udovickij who has a 70 percent stake in BKT.

"Moreover, US dollars continue to be used for payments during operations like the sale of Belarusian potash and vessel-chartering, American companies continue to buy the Belarusian product and this product is still delivered to the American market," the businessman said.

He also reiterated that the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the U.S. Treasury Department issued Belaruskali's subsidiary Belaruskaya Kaliynaya Kompaniya (Belarusian Potash Company, BKK) a license that is valid until April 1, 2022.

"At least until that time, any speculations on the subject of American sanctions on the transit of Belarusian potash via Lithuania are just speculations," Udovickij said.

But, he added, even if BKK or Belaruskali failed to receive new OFAC licenses after April 1, it would not in any way impact Lithuania's commitment regarding the transit of Belarusian potash.

Belaruskali owns the remaining 30 percent in BKT which exports around 95 percent of all of its produced fertilizers via Lithuania – around 11 million tons a year.