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Lithuanian Railways stops transporting potash produced by Belaruskali

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World Fertilizer,


As reported by Reuters, the board of state-owned Lithuanian Railways has voted to stop transporting potash produced by Belarus state-owned potash producer Belaruskali unless it gets government approval to resume.

Belaruskali, the world's second-largest producer of the crop fertiliser which is a big cash earner for Belarus, was sanctioned by the US last August, a year after a crackdown following a disputed presidential election which President Alexander Lukashenko said he won.

The ban on potash sales took effect on 8 December 2021 after a four-month wind-down period, but the transport of Belarus potash has continued via Lithuania.

This caused a public outcry in Lithuania, a US ally and one of Europe's most vocal critics of human rights abuses in Belarus.

Earlier this month, Lithuania terminated the transport agreement between its railway company and Belaruskali, saying it went against national security. The agreement will end on 1 February.

But six companies from Belarus and Lithuania, including potash trading companies, have asked the railway to continue to transport the potash after the Belaruskali agreement ends on Tuesday, the railway company said.

Their requests were referred to the government, which will decide if these contracts go against national security.

"This policy was agreed by the shareholder (the government) and approved by the board", said the state-owned rail company.

Landlocked Belarus uses Lithuania's Klaipeda port to export potash to customers which include India, China and Brazil.

Russia, which remains Belarus' ally, does not have enough spare port capacity to handle Belaruskali's 12.5 million tpy.

Potash prices are set for an extended rally after the US sanctions.

Lukashenko earlier on Monday ordered his government to respond "within days" if Lithuania blocks Belarus cargos from reaching its port.

"We are ready for negotiations, but if they continue to smother us, we will put our plan into motion", Lukashenko said in a video published on his Telegram channel. He did not detail the plan.

Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte came under pressure to resign after Lithuania's potash transports continued beyond 8 December, when the US sanctions came into full effect, but she announced she would stay in her post.

The head of the railways agreed to step down in December to "de-escalate" the public outcry.

Yara, which buys 10-15% of Belaruskali produce, said this month it will wind down purchases of potash from Belarus by April 1 as international sanctions made it impossible to continue the trade.

Read the article online at: https://www.worldfertilizer.com/potash/01022022/lithuanian-railways-stops-transporting-potash-produced-by-belaruskali/

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