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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Business in Brief

Czech Beef Banned

MOSCOW (Reuters) Ч RussiaТs chief veterinarian has issued an order banning from Thursday imports of live cattle, beef on the bone, and beef products from the Czech Republic over fears of mad cow disease.

A 6-year-old cow in the Czech Republic last week tested positive for bovine spongiform encephalopathy, believed to be linked to the deadly human-brain disorder new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, in the first case of so-called "mad cow" disease outside western Europe.

Only boneless pure beef may be imported from June 20 under the strict control of Russian veterinarians, said the order signed by Mikhail Kravchuk.

Earlier this year, Russia banned meat imports from the European Union because of fears over BSE, but lifted it from April 20 for several categories of animal products from EU countries.

The ban still applies to imports from France, the Netherlands, Ireland, Britain, Belgium and Luxembourg.

Russia has so far registered no cases of either mad cow disease or new variant Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease.

Kazakh Beef Banned

ALMATY, Kazakhstan (Reuters) Ч Russia has banned imports of all meat and meat products from Kazakhstan because of fears of foot-and-mouth disease, Kazakh state Khabar television reported Monday.

The channel said the ban had taken effect from May 25.

Khabar added that last year, Kazakh firms lost over $30 million as a result of similar measures. Kazakhstan typically exports over 350 tons of meat per month to Russia.

Central Asia has suffered outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease periodically since the collapse of the Soviet Union at the end of 1991.

The chief veterinarian of neighboring Kyrgyzstan, where an outbreak of the disease was recorded earlier this year, said a lack of funds for vaccination was behind its spread.

Kazakhstan has seen some suspected cases of foot-and-mouth this year.

Efes Gets $17M Loan

MOSCOW (MT) ЧThe European Bank for Reconstruction and Development said Thursday it had signed a deal to extend a $17 million loan to TurkeyТs Efes Beverage Group for expansion in Russia.

It is the second loan the EBRD has provided to EfesТ Moscow brewery, which is looking to double annual brewing capacity to 300 million liters.

Efes started construction of the 150-million-liter brewery in Moscow in 1998, and production commenced in May 1999. The initial project cost was $80 million, of which $39 million was provided by the EBRD.

"This project will strengthen the cooperation between Efes as a strategic investor and EBRD as a leading financial institution in the private sector in Russia," said Hans Christian Jacobsen, director of the EBRD agribusiness team.

Reserves Fall $300M

MOSCOW (MT) Ч RussiaТs gold and foreign currency reserves fell $300 million to $33.3 billion in the week ending June 8, Interfax reported the Central Bank as saying Thursday.

Itera Cuts Moldova Gas

CHISINAU, Moldova (MT) Ч The Itera group has limited natural gas supplies to Moldova over $400,000 of unpaid bills, Prime-Tass reported the head of the Moldova-gas joint venture, Mikhail Lesnik, as saying Wednesday.

According to Itar-Tass, Itera is selling gas to Moldova for lower prices than gas giant Gazprom, $65 per 1,000 cubic meters, but on tougher terms of payment.

Under the deal, Moldova was to pay for 40 percent in June and the remaining 60 percent before the middle of July. As Moldova failed to comply with these terms, Itera limited its supplies.

MoldovaТs debt to Gazprom has reached $10.5 million for this yearТs supplies. In all, its debt for gas, including the debt of its breakaway Transdniester province, is about $800 million, a part of which has been converted into government instruments.

TNK in U.S. Chamber

MOSCOW (MT) Ч Tyumen Oil Co., or TNK, said Thursday it had become the first Russian corporation to join the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

The announcement comes before SaturdayТs meeting of presidents Vladimir Putin and George W. Bush in Slovenia.

"Tyumen Oil is honored to have been invited to become a member of this prestigious organization. Е [The chamber] has been an important champion for the expansion of commercial relations between the United States and its leading trading partners, including Russia," said Simon Kukes, TNKТs president and CEO.

TNK, RussiaТs No. 2 oil company in reserves and No. 4 in production, has affiliations with other U.S. business organizations and corporations. Kukes recently became the first Russian member of the board of directors of the Washington based U.S.-Russia Business Council, which promotes trade between the two countries.

RTS Falls 1.03%

MOSCOW (Reuters) Ч Russian shares extended recent losses and closed down Thursday, but traders said turnover was low as global economic uncertainty kept investors away.

However, the market was inclined to resist a major drop for now, they said.

The benchmark RTS shares index ended off 1.03 percent at 207.97 on volume of $12.17 million. The broader Reuters composite was down 1.88 percent at 1,284.12.

Martin Diggle, a director at Brunswick UBS Warburg, said bad company news abroad was undermining investor confidence, spreading global malaise into the Russian market.

"We have the old global market twinges starting to affect us," Diggle said. "Russia as a standalone Ч no problem," he said.

Diggle saw interest in oil share Yukos, which was untraded all day in official trade, and metals producer Norilsk Nickel, which closed off 1.04 percent at $16.10.

'No Ukraine Gas Theft'

KIEV (AP) Ч Dismissing claims from gas monopoly Gazprom that Ukraine was continuing to siphon off Russian gas, MoscowТs ambassador to Ukraine, Viktor Chernomyrdin, said there were no such thefts in 2000 and 2001.

Chernomyrdin, the former chief of Gazprom who took his new assignment in Kiev in late May, made his statement at a meeting Thursday with new Ukrainian Prime Minister Anatoly Kinakh. RussiaТs gas export system, whose pipelines run through Ukraine, "worked in a normal regime" in 2000 and 2001, he said, Interfax reported.

Earlier, GazpromТs claims of fresh gas thefts were denied by Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, state oil and gas company Naftogas and former Gazprom chairman Rem Vyakhirev.

"What else must I say?" Chernomyrdin asked.