EURASIANET: Kazakhstan achieves agro-export breakthrough with China

Country: Kazakhstan
EURASIANET: Kazakhstan achieves agro-export breakthrough with China
27 February 2024

After a persistent lobbying effort by Kazakhstan, China has agreed to lift import bans on Kazakh meat, covering poultry, pork, and beef. However, logistical challenges are impeding cross-border freight rail traffic, delaying the realization of this diplomatic success. The ban on Kazakh poultry had been in place since 2005, while restrictions on pork and beef were enforced in 2022 due to a foot-and-mouth disease outbreak.

Despite the resumption of imports, China has imposed stringent importation criteria. Currently, only two plants are authorized to ship up to 8,000 tons of frozen meat to China, with no specified timeframe for the import quota duration. Maksut Baktibaev, head of the Meat Union of Kazakhstan, noted that the ban was lifted only for producers in foot-and-mouth disease-free regions.

Kazakhstan faces tough competition from countries like India and Brazil in the Chinese meat market, given their cheaper products and established foothold. The resumption of meat exports coincides with increased grain supplies to China in 2023, but bilateral agro-trade has experienced fluctuations due to logistical challenges at the Kazakh-Chinese border.

Currently, Kazakh grain exports to China are halted due to a backlog of freight cars awaiting unloading in China. Kazakh officials have extended a freeze on most freight cars crossing the border, initiated at the beginning of the year and likely to continue until the end of February.

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