EU restrictions bypass potash sales from Belarus to the Norwegian company Yara

Belarus will continue to export potash to Norwegian fertilizer maker Yara as sales have been barely affected by European Union trade restrictions targeting the Eastern European nation, the company’s chairman said Friday.

Western powers have imposed sanctions on Belarus, including restrictions on some of its potash exports, after the country forced a Ryanair plane to land in Minsk and arrested a dissident journalist on May 23.

“We have flexibility, but we have decided to continue buying from Belarus,” Yara boss Svein Tore Holsether told Reuters.

Yara respected the restrictions imposed by the EU and would only import potash as long as it could have a positive effect on workers’ rights in Belarus.

Norway is not an EU member state, but has announced that it will join the latest EU sanctions this Monday. The country’s foreign minister, Eriksen Soereide, condemns the crackdown on civil society and the detention of human rights defenders.

Potash with a potassium content of 60%, the main export of the state-owned potash mining company Belaruskali, was not on the EU sanctions list. Instead, Brussels imposed sanctions on potash with a potassium content of less than 40% or more than 62% in the dry product.

Holsether said the sanctions had so far had “some” impact on Yara’s potash imports, but did not want to say how much.

“The impact on us will be how the sanctions are defined and implemented. A quick implementation would have a bigger impact, ”he said.

Yara previously called for Belaruskali to stop punishing workers for participating in strikes and anti-government protests, and also to improve safety in the workplace.

“We are constantly evaluating whether we can and do have a positive influence … as long as we see that we will continue to source sources (from Belarus), but the sanctions will determine how we proceed,” he said.

According to a sustainability report published this year by the company, Yara buys potassium salt or potash from nine suppliers worldwide.

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