The tendency towards normalization of Belarusian-American relations has not yielded the desired results. The U.S. Treasury Department has extended a partial suspension of sanctions against Belneftekhim State Concern for another year and a half.
This August the Belarusian oil company hired U.S. lobbyist David Gencarelli for $ 60,000 to get permission to purchase American crude oil and lobby the lifting of sanctions against Belarus.
Belarusian authorities are looking for an alternative to Russian oil they can process at Mozyr and Novopolotsk refineries. The U.S. sanctions complicate the process of purchasing American oil.
Recall that Washington imposed sanctions on a number of petrochemical companies in Belarus after the 2006 presidential elections, citing human rights violations and undemocratic elections.
In 2015, sanctions were suspended. The move followed the release of several political prisoners, peaceful elections in 2015, and the entering of the first opposition MPs to parliament in 2016.
This decision was extended several times, the last time it happened in October 2018. Then the suspension of sanctions was extended for a year – until 25 October of the current year.
On 22 October, the US Treasury Department has again extended the suspension of sanctions until 26 April 2021.
It applies to Belarusian Oil Trade House, Belneftekhim, Belneftekhim USA, Inc, Belshina OAO, Grodno Azot OAO, Grodno Khimvolokno OAO, Lakokraska OAO, Naftan OAO and Polotsk Steklovolokno OAO.
Americans into business relations with the listed Belarusian companies will have to report in detail to the State Department on transactions totaling more than $50,000.
In September, the former U.S. President’s National Security Adviser John Bolton and U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale came to Minsk, marking the highest-level U.S. government visit to Belarus this century.
Shortly afterwards, the U.S. announced its readiness to discuss further easing of sanctions; both Minsk and Washington confirmed the return of ambassadors after an 11-year hiatus. Besides, new U.S. Embassy building is expected o be built in Minsk in the future.