Balkan Countries Unfazed by Belarus’s Import Ban

Albania, Montenegro and North Macedonia are not likely to be affected economically by a ban on food imports imposed by Belarus, which starts on January 1.

Although not part of the EU, they have joined recent increased EU and Western sanctions on Belarus, imposed over the migrant crisis at the Polish border, for which Minsk is blamed.

In return, Belarus has imposed a retaliatory ban on a wide range of food imports from the EU and the three Balkan states.

Minsk on Tuesday said it will ban a range of food imports from European Union states, the United States and other countries, starting next year, in retaliation for the sanctions imposed against it.

The ban covers imports from the EU, the United States, Canada, Britain, Norway, Albania, Iceland, Northern Macedonia and Montenegro.

It will affect products such as meat and sausages, dairy products, vegetables, fruit, and salt, and should remain in force for six months, starting January 1.

Belarus is not high on the list of North Macedonia's export destinations, however, which is topped by Germany, Britain and neighbouring Serbia.

During 2020, its exports to Belarus had a value of only 2.8 million euros, while imports amounted to just over 1.3 million euros. Incomplete data for this year indicate much the same trade volume as last year.

However, Belarus's ban on food will have some impact, as much of what North Macedonia exports to the country comprises agricultural goods, such as grapes, tomatoes and other fruits and vegetables.

The impact on Montenegro is expected to be even more limited, due to the very small volume of exports to Belarus.

Data from the Montenegrin Statistical Office show that in 2019 and 2020, the annual value of exports to Belarus...

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