On Tuesday, December 7, the Belarusian government approved the introduction of an embargo on Western food products from the new year. This is supposed to be Minsk’s response to further sanctions by the United Kingdom and the United States in connection with violations of human rights by Minsk and on the borders with Poland, Lithuania and Latvia.
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Belarus’ sanctions will have tangible consequences for Western companies
Pursuant to the decision of the Belarusian government, the embargo in force from 1 January is to cover, inter alia, beef, pork, milk and dairy products, vegetables, nuts, cold cuts, confectionery and salt. In accordance with the regulation, they will apply to production from the European Union countries (including Poland), the United States, Great Britain and Canada, as well as Norway, Albania, Iceland, North Macedonia, Montenegro and Switzerland.
The press service of the Belarusian government informed that in the first ten months of this year, Belarus imported food products worth USD 530 million from embargoed countries. Most of these imports are to be embargoed. The resulting shortages are to be covered by the production of Belarusian companies or imports from “friendly countries”. As indicated in the explanatory memorandum, sanctions are a reaction to “attempts at illegal sanctioning pressure”.
Experts, however, point out that the embargo introduced by the Belarusian government will have little impact on Western companies due to the low absorption of the Belarusian market for food imports. In Belarusian stores, food products of their own production or manufactured in, including well-known Western brands, have been dominating for a long time.
Belarus has reacted to Western sanctions
On December 2, the US, EU, UK and Canada imposed new sanctions on Belarus in response to “continued attacks on human rights and fundamental freedoms in Belarus, disregard of international norms and repeated acts of repression.” The countries demanded that the Lukashenka regime “immediately and completely stop organizing illegal migration across borders with the EU”. They also called on him to release almost 900 political prisoners unconditionally and without delay and to end the campaign of repression.
European Union restrictions included a ban on entry to the EU and a blockade of assets in Europe. 17 people and 11 companies appeared on the sanctions list, including the Belarusian airline Belavia and travel agencies that were involved in bringing migrants from the Middle East to Belarus.
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