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Westminster Hall Debate about Sanctions on Belarus and Russia

Home / News & Views / News / Westminster Hall Debate about Sanctions on Belarus and Russia

30 March 2023

Putin and Lukashenko

Siobhain held a Westminster Hall Debate about Sanctions on Belarus and Russia. The debate was about a business based in Lower Morden called SGG Manufacturing, who make parts for rolling garage doors, which used to do business with a Belarusian aluminium supplier.

In response to the war in Ukraine, SGG made the decision to abandon their exclusive contract with the Belarusian manufacturer and source the components from elsewhere in Europe. But the original Belarusian supplier is now managing to circumvent these sanctions and is continuing to import banned products.

Siobhain made the case for the business in Parliament and in response the Foreign Office minister David Rutley said the Russians were “doing everything they can to try and avoid these sanctions, because they are biting on their economy”, adding: “We continually need to refresh our sanctions approach to respond to that, and we are.”. Mr Rutley told the Westminster Hall debate: “We will continue to bear down on Russia and Belarus by implementing further sanctions and leaning in to tackle Russia’s attempt to circumvent measures already in place, as we have done over the past year.”

Siobhain followed up on this with a cross party letter, to ensure that this loophole is closed. You can read the cross-party letter below: 


Dear Mr Cleverly,

We have become aware of Belarusian and Russian businesses circumventing the sanctions
and tariffs regime implemented by the UK Government.

One way that sanctions are being avoided relates to the way that the product lists have been
drawn up. There is a list of sanctioned product codes for Russia. And there is a list of
sanctioned product codes for Belarus. In some instances, the two lists of products do not
match. As a result, there are some goods that are sanctioned in Belarus, but are not sanctioned
if they come from Russia.

We have become aware that businesses are exploiting this difference in the product lists to
export to the UK sanction free. Phenomenally, this is done by stating that the goods now
originate in Russia, rather than Belarus.

This is an absurd situation, and we urge the Government to update these product lists so that
they match and cannot be exploited by companies seeking to avoid sanctions.
We are also concerned to hear about companies assigning their products a new, intentionally
incorrect, but unsanctioned commodity codes, enabling them to import to the UK, sanction

We urge the Government to resolve both of these loopholes as soon as possible.
Belarusian and Russian businesses are also paying the additional 35% tariff with ease,
enabling them to operate competitively and undercut UK businesses. In cases where sanctions
are circumvented, only tariffs that are high enough are an effective fallback.

We can have the toughest regime on paper, but if Russia and Belarus are finding ways around
it in practice, then that is not acceptable.

Yours Sincerely,

Iain Duncan-Smith
David Davis
Jonathan Lord
Marie Rimmer
Chris Bryant
Siobhain McDonagh

--- ENDS