Forestry Minister Aleksandr Kulik told reporters about barriers to the supply of Belarusian timber products to the European Union and the search for new markets, BelTA has learned.
According to the minister, there has been little headway in resolving the problem of processing wood waste into fuel pellets, and the lack of progress was criticized by the head of state during the meeting on 24 August. Several years ago Belarus created substantial capacities to process wood waste with an eye to the vast market of the EU countries.
“All of these facilities catered to the premium segment of the European market. According to our estimates, Europe's demand for these products was up to 3 million tonnes per year. Unfortunately, our foes [imposed sanctions]. People are freezing, but politics is above economy there. We have capacities. And small firms [in the EU] are looking for a way to resume contacts. But it is hard to overcome the barrier between us that was put up by politicians,” Aleksandr Kulik said.
Meanwhile, Belarus is looking for new markets. “I would not like to reveal details prematurely. We have already laid some groundwork. We have found markets for some products,” the minister said.
According to Aleksandr Kulik, the Forestry Ministry restructured its work amidst the sanctions in June 2022. Before the sanctions, 60,000 cubic meters of lumber was exported monthly. The export dropped insignificantly in July 2022 when the sanctions were imposed. But now the lumber export bounced back to reach an all-time high of 77,000 cubic meters, the minister said.
Before the sanctions, the EU countries were the main sales markets for Belarusian lumber accounting for 56% of the country's lumber export. After the lumber export to the EU was discontinued, the main consumers were China (52%, previously 37%), Azerbaijan (24%, previously 4%) and Russia (6%).
“We have occupied this niche, and most importantly, the export rose both in terms of volume and value. Over seven months, we shipped products worth $90.4 million,” said Aleksandr Kulik.
“The only thing the president criticized was inadequate economic efficiency. We need a product with a greater added value. We need to look for new sales markets where the profitability and sales margins of products will be higher. The president's message is clear: forest is our most valuable asset and renewable source of energy. And wood should be sold with a bigger added value,” the forestry minister said.