Belarus to cut the price of 2014 potash exports

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Belarus plans to cut the price of potash exports to $300 a tonne in 2014, the economy ministry said, adding to pressure on global prices for the soil nutrient already hit by the breakup of its joint venture with Russia.

Belarus' sales alliance with Russian producer Uralkali fell apart in July, causing an economic headache for Belarus, where potash exports are a key foreign currency earner. The joint venture accounted for 40 percent of the world market.

"We forecast 2014 potash exports of 7 million tonnes... We cut the price to $300 per tonne," Deputy Economy Minister Alexander Yaroshenko told a meeting in parliament on Thursday.

The shipments will be priced at a significant discount to the $379 per tonne average that Belarus recorded for exports in the first eight months of 2013.

Attempts by Belaruskali and other producers to sell additional volumes following the breakup could put further pressure on prices, Uralkali has said. Uralkali also expected global potash prices to stay above $300 per tonne.

President Alexander Lukashenko has expressed the hope that the lucrative partnership could be reformed and has called for a change in Uralkali ownership, setting it as a condition for the freeing of Uralkali CEO Vladislav Baumgertner.

Baumgertner, arrested in Minsk in August and charged with abuse of power and embezzlement, is being held under house arrest. Russia has requested his extradition.

Yaroshenko did not provide 2013 potash exports forecast. In 2012 the country exported 6.1 million tonnes.

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