Belarus’ Foreign Minister, Sergei Martynov, has expressed his concern about the big increase in imports of leather footwear into Belarus this year, according to the Belta news agency. Imports of these commodities in the first two months of this year were 60% higher than in the same period last year. The Belarusian government has called on local enterprises to increase their production of goods that are currently imported.

A presidential decree giving state support to the leather footwear industry in Belarus has recently been drafted. The aim of the decree is to stimulate production. The decree exempts machinery used in the industry, as well as machinery repairs, from VAT and customs duties, except for machinery imported from Russia. In addition, the Belarusian state is likely to use a US$280 million credit line from China to modernise the leather footwear industry. The new decree will be effective from June 1 this year to June 30, 2009.