EU wants sanctions against timber industry in Belarus

EU parliament adopted a resolution on Thursday imposing sanctions against Belarus. The resolution includes penalties against the wood processing industry in Belarus for the first time. The discussions about sanctions against Belarus so far had focused on the potassium salt industry and crude oil refining companies. Economic sanctions against Belarus were called for in response to the forced landing of a Ryanair passenger aircraft in Minsk on 23 May and the subsequent arrest of blogger Roman Protassewitsch.

In the EU parliament’s resolution adopted by 626 votes to 16, with 36 abstentions, direct measures against Belarusian persons and organisations that were involved in forcing the plane to land and in arresting Protassewitsch are called for on the one hand; quick economic and sectoral measures aiming at Belarusian key industries are requested by parliamentarians on the other hand.
EU countries are important trade partners for Belarusian wood industry companies. In 2020, 2.975m (3.069m) m³ out of the total of 3.690m m³ of sawn softwood exports were shipped to customers in the EU. With regard to sawn hardwood, companies in Germany and the Baltic states rank among key customers for Belarusian manufacturers. Accounting for a share of 11 %, Belarus ranked third as supplier country for German sawn hardwood imports in 2019. Exports to EU countries are gaining importance since 2020 where plywood is concerned.
Apart from the foreign trade with wood products, investment projects of wood industry companies in Belarus could be affected by the sanctions. Estonian Kaamos Timber and Austrian HS Timber Group (formerly known as Holzindustrie Schweighofer), among others, plan to put sawmills into operation in Belarus until 2022.

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