A report from the country’s Agricultural Ministry said it hoped this would be possible when international experts at the next assembly of the Office International des Epizooties (OIE) in May 2015 confirmed the country was free from foot-and-mouth disease (FMD).
The report also said that one of the most promising markets is the European Union (EU), which can be supplied with poultry and beef products, in particular.
"This [status of FMD-free country] will allow Kazakhstan to launch exports of various animal products to the EU and other World Trade Organization countries, and will open up promising markets for Kazakhstan farmers," commented the Agricultural Ministry’s press service.
Kazakhstan’s veterinary services have already affirmed there is no FMD in the country. "The country eliminated the disease from its territory – made possible through the active collaboration and efficient work of Kazakh and Russian veterinary services, as well as the OIE," added the report.
According to official statistics, Kazakhstan exported 12,000 tonnes (t) of meat and meat products in 2014. The volume of exports has remained low in recent years, following the identification of several outbreaks of FMD in the country. Kazakhstan’s Agricultural Ministry believes that FMD-free status would allow the country to increase its export volumes by several times, with a potential 10,000t – 15,000t of meat products shipped to Europe annually.
Argument on the need for exports
However, some doubt that exports to the EU really will be achieved this year, as the country’s leaders believe Kazakhstan first needs to achieve an appropriate level of self-sufficiency in meat production and can only launch major export supplies once that is in place.
"Kazakhstan should export domestic meat only when the market is filled with such product. It is inappropriate [to develop exports] when meat imports into Kazakhstan are currently 16 times greater than exports," said Dariga Nazarbayeva, deputy chairman of the Majilis (lower chamber of parliament). Based on this outlook, there was speculation that the government might restrict export supplies, particularly if they were to grow quickly.
Yet Agriculture Minister Asylzhan Mamytbekov said he believed Kazakhstan did not have a problem with an imbalance in export and import supplies. "I think we should follow the example of big meat exporters, such as the US and Canada, which are also major [meat] importers," he said.
Meanwhile, Auezkhan Darinov, president of the Kazakhstan’s Union of Farmers, believed that developing exports would improve the overall situation in Kazakhstan’s meat industry, but said it was necessary to conduct a thorough analysis of the situation. "We need to determine the demand for meat exports, and consider the scope of production growth," he said, adding that there was a danger that, without export supplies, the industry could face a negative impact from oversaturation in the domestic market in future.