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News: Friday, August 04, 2017 -- Issue 2794 http://www.newsline.kz/rss/

Article of the Day

Geopolitical rope-dancing: Kazakhstan ‘twixt Russia and the West
    Recent remarks by Russian Energy Minister Aleksandr Novak, who called on oil producers to show greater discipline in adhering to agreed-upon output cuts designed to raise the price of oil, have caught the attention of Kazakhstan.
    The country, together with Russia, Azerbaijan, and several other producers outside OPEC, joined Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, and other cartel members in a November 2015 agreement to cut global production in an effort to boost lagging prices.
    Kazakhstan finds itself in a trickier position than any other oil producer. Since the dismantlement of the USSR, Astana appeared to be a staunch Russian ally, being one of the first Soviet republics to join the Moscow-led Eurasian Economic Union (EEU).
    At the same time, Kazakhstan continues to seek a solid political and commercial balance in its relations with the West, and especially with the European Union.
    Although the economic benefits of joining the EEU have been minimal, Kazakhstan had to join the Russian-led EEU for political and security-oriented reasons, not economic or financial ones.
    The Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014 has made divisions inside Kazakhstan grow. Since then, allusions about Russia seizing northern Kazakhstan have taken the form of a plausible medium-term threat.
    In 1989, Kazakhstan was 39% ethnic Kazakh, while now it is nearly 70%, as many Russians have left and Kazakhs have enjoyed higher birth rates.
    Still, ethnic Russians make up almost one quarter of the population of what was once the most ethnically mixed former Soviet republic, and Astana has to take into account the psychological importance of such a large ethnic Russian community, which Putin has pledged to defend across all the former Soviet countries.
    Given the delicate nature of Kazakhstan’s ethnic distribution, the country always had to tread carefully and to permanently maintain a political and commercial equilibrium in its relations with Russia and the West.
    Under Nursultan Nazarbayev, Kazakhstan’s long-standing leader, ethnic strife has been kept in check. The Russian language remains dominant nonetheless, with President Nazarbayev and those of his generation being more comfortable speaking Russian than Kazakh.
    At the same time, in order to diminish Russia’s cultural and social influence, Kazakhstan has announced it would outline a new alphabet by the end of this year, switching from the Cyrillic-based script to Latin.
    President Nazarbaev ordered that all publications, documents, and street signs switch from Cyrillic to Latin by 2025. The move is an obvious effort to emphasize Kazakh culture and distance the country from Russia.
    Moscow’s impatient call to Kazakhstan to reduce the oil production is not the only sign of Russian pressure. Kazakhstan also had to join Russia, along with Belarus, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan, as a member of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (although it hasn’t still agreed, as Armenia did, to establish joint military units with Russia).
    On the other hand, Kazakhstan’s economy relies largely on the EU. Since 2002, the EU has grown to become Kazakhstan’s largest trading partner, being the destination of 40% of its exports. The country being a major energy supplier to the EU, the EU also supported Kazakhstan’s accession to the World Trade Organisation.
    A balanced approach in building relations with the EEU, and at the same time with the EU, will thus remain a core element of Kazakhstan’s foreign policy. But Russian pressure is not the only liability. Kazakhstan’s position is also made complicated by Armenia’s presence as a member inside the Customs Union with Russia.
    Armenia joined the EEU with Russia in January 2015, renouncing its planned Association Agreement (AA) and Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) with the EU. Kazakhstan was not particularly supportive of Russia’s initiative to make Armenia a member.
    Astana’s position, at least publicly, reflects a serious consideration for a “Turkic solidarity” with Azerbaijan. Nevertheless, in the end, Kazakhstan came to view Armenia’s accession as a kind of lever that could be used against Moscow to achieve more concessions and economic preferences.
    Kazakhstan does not have the same strategic value for the Kremlin as Crimea. Russia’s Black Sea fleet was, and still is, based in Crimea, and Ukraine was seen as a vital rampart against NATO’s expansion.
    But Kazakhstan does have important assets such as the Baikonur cosmodrome, the world’s first and largest operational space launch facility. The cosmodrome is still used permanently by Russia.
    A Soyuz rocket was launched from there on 28 July, carrying a three-man crew from Russia, the US and Italy for a five-month mission on the orbiting International Space Station (ISS).
    The permanent rope-dancing between Russia and the West will continue, given that the obvious geopolitical restrictions will remain and not diminish; their severity will depend on how relations between Russia and the EU unfold.
    Kazakhstan will stay on the safe side and avoid antagonising Brussels or Moscow. For the time being, recent signals from Brussels show that the EU is not going to modify its format and “philosophy” towards Astana.
    As for the EEU, Kazakhstan’s participation has not yet resulted in any significant positive economic impact. Russia’s own economic crisis played a role in this, as has the institutionally and economically weak structure of the EEU.
    Still, Kazakhstan has not experienced any specific negative consequences either. Instead, joining the EEU has potentially prevented Kazakhstan from becoming the site of another geopolitical confrontation between Russia and the West.
    However, Astana is now taking more cautious steps, not to irritate Moscow. For its part, Brussels has also demonstrated more flexibility and understanding in regard to Astana’s position. But, if Brussels is unable to offer anything more significant to Kazakhstan in key areas such as security, a situation of permanent déjà-vu and ambiguity in relations between Kazakhstan and the EU will remain for a long time.
    Reported by Euractiv.

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Kazakhstan General

Huge wildfire rages across Kazakh steppes
    For the last two days, firemen have been extinguishing steppe fire in several regions of Kazakhstan, according to Ruslan Imankulov, the official representative of the Kazakh ...
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Kazakhstan to cut tax rate for small business in 2018
    As part of the Nation’s Plan "100 Concrete Steps", it is proposed to reduce the tax rate for small businesses in Kazakhstan starting from 2018, the ...
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Kazakhstan: a promising and inspiring state
    Kazakhstan is a promising state. The Great Steppe covers a large territory on the Eurasian continent: from west to east, it extends to almost 3,000 kilometres ...
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Kazakhstan wakes up to hot, windy Friday
    Inclement weather will persist in some areas of Kazakhstan today, August 4. According to Kazhydromet, chances of occasional rains, stiff wind and hail will be high ...
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Oil and Gas Sector

$-0.08 EPS expected for Condor Petroleum
    Wall Street await Condor Petroleum Inc (TSE:CPI) to release earnings on August, 11. Analysts forecast EPS of $-0.08, down exactly $0.01 or 14.29 % from 2014’s ...
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Iran calls for foreign investment in oil extract from Caspian Sea
    Iran’s petroleum minister has called on well-known foreign energy firms to make investment in projects to explore and extract oil resources in Caspian Sea, north of ...
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Gazprom pumps up gas transit to Germany
    Russia’s energy giant Gazprom has increased gas transit through the OPAL pipeline, which receives gas from the Nord Stream pipeline in Germany, Vedomosti writes. On August ...
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Russia’s Urals oil futures contract stalls due to lack of support, scarce supply: sources
    Russia’s attempts to establish a futures market for its flagship Urals oil grade are faltering due to lack of support from international trading houses and the ...
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Oil rises as tighter U.S. market outweighs OPEC supply
    Oil prices rose on Thursday, with signs of a tightening U.S. market spurring cautious buying by investors despite high crude supplies from producer club OPEC.
    Benchmark Brent ...
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Finance and Investment

Marginal improvement of balance of payments in 1H2017
    As a result of increased oil prices, the continued investment inflows and reduction of external assets of the National Fund, the balance of payments has improved ...
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Kazakhstan : Eurasian Development Bank to allocate Rub 10 billion as senior creditor under Central Ring
    The Eurasian Development Bank (EDB), acting as a senior creditor, is to allocate RUB 10 billion to implement a PPP project of building Central Ring Road ...
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Kazkommertsbank connects subsidiary bank Moskommertsbank to faster money transfer system
    JSC Kazkommertsbank (further “KKB” or the “Bank”) announces on Moskommertsbank, a banking subsidiary in Russia, having joined Faster, KKB’s in-house international money transfer system designed for ...
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Kazakhstanis lost 11 million tenge in pyramid schemes - State Revenue Committee
    The State Revenue Committee of the Ministry of Finance of Kazakhstan (SRC) notes the growth in the number of citizens deceived in various investment scams, Kazinform ...
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Fake banknotes worth almost KZT 1 m seized for six months in RK
    The State Revenue Committee of the Finance Ministry told how many counterfeit tenge and dollars were seized in the first half-year, Kazpravda.kz reports.
    "During the reporting ...
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KASE day session: USDKZT_TOD = 335.53
    The day foreign currencies trading session ended on Kazakhstan Stock Exchange (KASE).
    Based on results of trades on the spot-market:
    - weighted average US dollar rate with settlements ...
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Metals and Minerals

Evraz PLC rating lowered to sell at Zacks Investment Research
    Zacks Investment Research lowered shares of Evraz PLC (NASDAQ:EVRZF) from a hold rating to a sell rating in a research note published on Friday, July 21st. ...
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Copper falls after soft China service sector report, dollar recovers
    Copper prices recoiled in late trading in Asia on Thursday, reversing earlier strength after a private survey pointed to a slower growth in China's services sector ...
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Gold prices fall as investors turn to risk assets
    Gold prices fell on Thursday as the dollar inched up from multi-month lows and as signs that the U.S. economy was strengthening turned investor focus on ...
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Manufacturing industry

Plant for production of elevators will open in Kostanay
    A company from Yekaterinburg is ready to build a plant in Kostanay for production of elevators. This was reported by the region governor Arhimed Mukhambetov, reporting ...
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Trade and Consumer Goods

Grain harvest in Kazakhstan close to 2 million tonne
    As of August 3, Kazakhstan harvested 1.186 mln tonnes of grains throughout the areas of 584.4 thsd ha (31% of the plan).
    The average yield reached 2.03 ...
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Kazakh farmers produced $2.7 billion in goods in six months
    Kazakhstan’s gross agricultural output increased more than 3 percent to 887.5 billion tenge (US$2.7 billion) in the first six months of the year, according to a ...
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By 2021 Kazakhstan plans to create over 1200 agricultural cooperatives
    By 2021 in Kazakhstan it is planned to create over 1200 agricultural cooperatives, said deputy director of the department of agricultural cooperation of the Agriculture Ministry, ...
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Products in Astana markets can be checked for safety
    Astana residents had an opportunity to check the products purchased at the communal market "Shapagat" for safety and suitability for use, Kazpravda.kz reports.
    Employees of the ...
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Food prices hit highest since 2014, led by dairy, grains, sugar
    Food prices have hit their highest since 2014, led by rise by grains and sugar, and a lift in dairy values to a three-year high – ...
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Future: US data, China fears add to soya price pressure
    Sellers lost a bit of their focus on grains, but maintained fire on soyabeans, which took their losses this week above 5% on continued ideas of ...
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Customs documents on import-export will be issued automatically in Kazakhstan
    First Deputy Minister of Finance Ruslan Beketayev told a press conference in the Government that in Kazakhstan, digitalization of customs declaration will be carried out, and ...
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Communications and Transportation

Qazaq Air to launch Astana-Zhezkazgan flight
    QAZAQ AIR airline has announced the launch of new regular Astana-Zhezkazgan flight, Kazinform cites the company press service.
    "Every Saturday from August 19, 2017, the residents and ...
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Kazakhstan to supply new electric locomotives to Azerbaijan
    Azerbaijan will soon receive new electric locomotives from Kazakhstan.
    Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan have already increased the volume of mutual deliveries and the two countries plan to increase ...
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Regional News

EU clears joint venture creation between ChemChina, AKC
    The European Union (EU) regulators approved the creation of a joint venture between China National Chemical Corporation (ChemChina) and Japan-based Asahi Kasei Corporation (AKC) on Wednesday, ...
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China settles 1,923 bankruptcy cases in seven months
    Chinese courts settled 1,923 bankruptcy cases from January to July this year, up nearly 30 percent year on year, according to the Supreme People's Court (SPC) ...
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Russia surfaces as major seafood exporter
    Russia saw a 62-percent jump in the export of shellfish and mollusks, including oysters, in January-May 2017 compared to the same period last year, Izvestia writes ...
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Beeline deploys 4G network in 11 cities of Uzbekistan as income drops
    Beeline, a largest communication operator, deployed 4G network in Angren, Andijan, Bekabad, Gijduvan, Karshi, Namangan and Chirchiq, the press service of the company said.
    Director General ...
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Uzbekistan’s attitude towards Rogun HPP's construction changed
    There is a clear shift in Uzbekistan’s attitude towards the construction of Tajikistan’s Rogun hydropower plant since the change of the country’s leadership, a Senior Fellow ...
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Former parliament member sentenced to 11 years for hostage-taking in Kyrgyzstan
    A court in Bishkek has sentenced former member of Kyrgyzstan’s parliament Sadyr Japarov to 11.5 years in a high-security prison for hostage-taking.
    On August 2, the Pervomaisky ...
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Operations on SOCAR bonds exceed $100M
    Operations on the secondary market on bonds of the Azerbaijani state oil company SOCAR, which have the highest demand in the country's stock market, exceeded $100 ...
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Attacks on embassy, Shia mosque signs of ISIS bringing Iraq war to Afghanistan
    Attacks on the Iraqi embassy and a Shia mosque in Afghanistan have reinforced fears that Islamic State militants are seeking to bring the group’s Middle East ...
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Prices and Statistics

Commodities
    

Date: August 4, 2017; Source: Bloomberg.com

Energy

Index Units Price Change %Change Contract Time (EDT) 2 Day
USD/bbl. 48.88 -0.15 -0.31% Sep 2017 1:37 AM
USD/bbl. 51.84 -0.17 -0.33% Oct 2017 1:37 AM
USd/gal. 163.38 +0.19 +0.12% Sep 2017 12:47 AM
USD/MMBtu 2.78 -0.02 -0.57% Sep 2017 1:37 AM
USd/gal. 163.79 -0.10 -0.06% Sep 2017 1:36 AM
 
Index Units Price Change %Change Contract Time (EDT) 2 Day
USD/t oz. 1,274.70 +0.30 +0.02% Dec 2017 1:38 AM
USD/t oz. 1,269.87 +1.27 +0.10% N/A 1:48 AM
USD/t oz. 16.69 +0.06 +0.36% Sep 2017 1:37 AM
USd/lb. 288.70 +0.90 +0.31% Sep 2017 1:37 AM
USD/t oz. 966.19 +2.09 +0.22% N/A 1:48 AM
Index Units Price Change %Change Contract Time (EDT) 2 Day
USd/bu. 379.25 +1.50 +0.40% Dec 2017 1:37 AM
USd/bu. 458.00 +0.25 +0.05% Sep 2017 1:36 AM
USD/MT 2,061.00 +6.00 +0.29% Dec 2017 8/3/2017
USd/lb. 70.37 +0.21 +0.30% Dec 2017 1:36 AM
USd/lb. 114.83 +0.15 +0.13% Oct 2017 8/3/2017
 

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Exchange Rates
    

Date: August 4, 2017; Source: the National Bank of Kazakhstan

1 AUSTRALIAN DOLLAR AUD / KZT 266.22  
1 AZERBAIJAN MANAT AZN / KZT 201.02  
10 ARMENIAN DRAM AMD / KZT 7.03  
1 BELARUS ROUBLE BYN / KZT 171.76  
1 BRAZILIAN REAL BRL / KZT 107.82  
10 HUNGARIAN FORINTS HUF / KZT 13.12  
1 HONG KONG DOLLAR HKD / KZT 42.94  
1 GEORGIAN LARI GEL / KZT 140.82  
1 DANISH KRONA DKK / KZT 53.46  
1 UAE DIRHAM AED / KZT 91.41  
1 US DOLLAR USD / KZT 335.71  
1 EURO EUR / KZT 397.61  
1 INDIAN RUPEE INR / KZT 5.27  
1000 IRANIAN RIAL IRR / KZT 10.24  
1 CANADIAN DOLLAR CAD / KZT 266.5  
1 CHINESE YUAN CNY / KZT 49.95  
1 KUWAIT DINAR KWD / KZT 1116.06  
1 KYRGYZIAN SOM KGS / KZT 4.87  
1 MALAYSIAN RINGGIT MYR / KZT 78.49  
1 MEXICAN PESO MXN / KZT 18.85  
1 MOLDAVIAN LEY MDL / KZT 18.8  
1 NORWEGIAN KRONA NOK / KZT 42.46  
1 POLISH ZLOTY PLN / KZT 93.52  
1 SAUDI RIYAL SAR / KZT 89.52  
1 RUSSIAN ROUBLE RUB / KZT 5.55  
1 SDR XDR / KZT 474.22  
1 SINGAPORE DOLLAR SGD / KZT 246.92  
1 TAJIKISTAN SOMONI TJS / KZT 38.15  
1 THAI BAHT THB / KZT 10.1  
1 TURKISH LIRA TRY / KZT 94.84  
100 UZBEKISTAN SUM UZS / KZT 8.2  
1 UKRAINIAN GRIVNA UAH / KZT 12.97  
1 GREAT BRITAIN POUND GBP / KZT 444.31  
1 CRECH KORUNA CZK / KZT 15.25  
1 SWEDISH KRONA SEK / KZT 41.42  
1 SWISS FRANC CHF / KZT 346.41  
1 SOUTH AFRICAN RAND ZAR / KZT 25.29  
100 SOUTH KOREAN WON KRW / KZT 29.84  
1 JAPANESE YEN JPY / KZT 3.04  

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