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19 Oct, 2007 08:00

Hike in gas prices in store for Belarus

Russian Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov is in Minsk for talks on the Russia-Belarus Union State. The joint council of ministers will tackle the Union State's budget for 2008.

Economic activity between Russia and Belarus reached just over $US 11 billion in the first half of this year.
However, the turnover is unequal as trade with Russia is far more important for Belarus. Seen from Russian side, trade with Belarus is much smaller.
This is more or less the Russian PM’s introductory trip to Belarus, during which he is expected to be appointed chairman of the Russian-Belarusian Union Council.
The original Russia-Belarus Union formally came into being in 1996 and the idea was to create a common economic and political space of the two countries. But ever since Russia and Belarus have been negotiating on how to do it.
During his trip, Viktor Zubkov is meeting his Belarusian counterpart Sergey Sidorsky, and President Aleksandr Lukashenko, to discuss a number of issues among which are energy prices.
Next year's Russian gas price to Belarus will stand at $US 125 per thousand cubic metres, according to Russia's Deputy Energy Minister Ivan Materov – 25 per cent higher than the current rate.