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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Kazakhstan Extends Embargo On Russian Imports to June

ALMATY, Kazakhstan -- Kazakhstan said Wednesday that it was extending a temporary ban on food imports from Russia, despite earlier indications that the embargo was about to be lifted.

The vast Central Asian country, which shares a northern border with Russia, said April 5 that it would remove a ban introduced in January on Russian food products if there was no indication of dumping.

"[The government] said the ban would be removed except when there is dumping. There is dumping, and so the ban exists in accordance with the agreement with Russia until June 23," said a spokesman for the energy, industry and trade minister.

"The ban came into force on Jan. 11 and will continue until June 23. It will probably be removed after that," he said by telephone from the capital of Astana.

A ministry statement said the Russian government was effectively subsidizing food producers by allowing them to pay for electricity and transport at reduced prices.

"The Russian government has taken on itself the losses to energy and transportation firms," it said.

The import ban includes meat and poultry, milk, grains and flour products and confectionery goods.

Russia and Kazakhstan agreed on the ban last December as a flood of Russian goods poured south. Russian producers' costs slumped after the ruble devaluation of August, making the Kazakh market relatively attractive.

"The high rate of the tenge in recent months led to a sharp deficit in the balance of payments in Kazakhstan," the Energy, Industry and Trade Ministry said.

Kazakhstan effectively devalued its tenge currency from April 5 to boost the competitiveness of domestic producers and curb the damaging rise in imports.

Confident the new exchange regime would do the trick, it announced then that trade restrictions, including the ban on some Russian goods, would be halted.