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Norwegian Fertilizer Producer To Phase Out Belarusian Potash Imports Due To Sanctions

Estimates from Yara say the company buys about 10 to 15 percent of the potash produced by the Belarusian firm OJSC Belaruskali. (file photo)

Norwegian chemical firm Yara International has announced it is gradually reducing its imports of potash fertilizer from Belarus as a result of international sanctions on the regime of authoritarian ruler Alyaksandr Lukashenka.

The European Union, United States, and key Western allies have slapped several rounds of sanctions on Belarus's political and economic elite after a crackdown on protests triggered by Lukashenka's widely disputed reelection in August 2020 and amid an ongoing crisis over thousands of Middle Eastern migrants amassed at Belarus's border with EU member Poland.

The punitive measures targeted Belarusian entities including a complete asset freeze on OJSC Belaruskali, a global leader in potash fertilizer -- one of Belarus's main exports. Estimates from Yara say the company buys about 10 to 15 percent of Belaruskali's output.

The Norwegian fertilizer producer said in a statement published on January 10 that "the effects on the supply chain from the current sanctions on Belarus have forced Yara to initiate a wind-down of its sourcing of Belarusian potash, a key ingredient for the production of mineral fertilizers used in food production."

Although the chemical firm's activity in Belarus is currently complying with international sanctions, "other parts of the supply chain are withdrawing essential services required to enable potash exports from Belarus, as a result of which Yara has initiated a wind-down in sourcing activities," the company said.

"The wind-down is expected to be completed by 1 April 2022," Yara International said, adding that it will "continue to monitor for any changes in the situation, including sanctions, as part of its ongoing sourcing operations."

Despite the phasing out of potash imports, Yara International pledged not to abandon its efforts to improve work safety for Belaruskali employees.

"Yara aims to continue the industrial safety program initiated in 2021, in close cooperation with the independent trade union in Belaruskali and in full compliance with applicable sanctions,” the company said.

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