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Uzbekistan suspends import of Ukrainian sugar

Staff Writer |
Uzbekistan prohibited the unloading and customs clearance of Ukrainian sugar, threatening the loss of one of the nation’s main sugar markets, the National Association of Sugar Producers of Ukraine reported on Nov. 30.

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Ukraine exported 560,400 tons of sugar in 2017, almost 40 percent of which went to Uzbekistan worth $79 million.

“Over the past six months, the main importer of Ukrainian sugar was Uzbekistan, so we can say that now Ukraine is losing it’s main market,” said Ruslana Butylo, head of the analytical department at Ukrtsugar, the National Association of Sugar Producers of Ukraine.

The ban is part of a recent trade conflict between two countries, both former Soviet republics.

According to Eurasianet, an independent news organization that covers the South Caucasus and Central Asia, the lawmakers in Uzbekistan’s parliament discussed earlier a ban on Ukrainian sugar and pharmaceuticals in retaliation to Kyiv’s threat to limit the imported number of cheap Uzbek-made cars, namely the Chevrolet and Ravon.

The Ukrainian government had been investigating, at the request of UkrAutoprom, the Ukrainian Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Association, on Oct. 3 to check if Uzbekistan was giving its carmakers an unfair advantage with subsidies or other forms of support.

UkrAutoprom complained that the import of cars from Uzbekistan grew by 760 percent for the past few years, which can cause significant harm to national producers.

However, Alisher Abdualiev, Uzbekistan’s ambassador to Ukraine, complained that Ukraine’s accusations are baseless.

“The share of Uzbek cars was only 0.35 percent in 2015, 0.22 percent in 2016, and 0.87 percent in 2017. In 2017, the Ravon model took 10th place in sales. With such sales volumes, it is not clear how Ravon could damage Ukrainian automakers,” said Abdualiev to Interfax on Oct. 26. “This is all premeditated discrimination, more precisely, an attempt to squeeze competition out of the market.”

Andriy Dorofeyev, head of Ukravtonomgaz, a construction company for autonomous gas supply systems, sees Ukraine’s sugar problem in Uzbekistan as a small part of a bigger trade threat for Ukraine.

Dorofeyev predicted that sanctions against Ukraine will be officially announced at the Eurasian Economic Union summit in Saint Petersburg on Dec. 6.

“Uzbekistan is a potential candidate for joining the EEU and will fulfill all of the Kremlin’s demands,” Dorofeyev told the Kyiv Post.

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