Kazakhstan rejects single currency proposal from Russia

22nd April 2015, Comments 0 comments

Kazakhstan will not accept a single currency in a trade bloc championed by Moscow, a top official said on Wednesday, rejecting a proposal from Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The Russian leader has called for a common currency to be created in the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), a four-country trade grouping consisting of Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia.

"We are not discussing such questions," Kazakhstan's Deputy Economy Minister Timur Zhaksylykov told reporters in the capital Astana.

"I wish to say that Kazakhstan has a clear and consistent position on excluding the possibility of introducing a single currency within the framework of the EEU," he said.

Speaking at a meeting with Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev and Aleksandr Lukashenko of Belarus last month, Putin said the ex-Soviet countries should tighten cooperation.

"We think the time has come to discuss opportunities to form a potential currency union," he said at the time.

Zhaksylykov's remarks came amid worsening economic ties between Kazakhstan and Russia, which officials on both sides have shied away from calling a trade war.

Since late March Kazakhstan has begun restricting sales across a range of Russia-sourced food products, citing consumer safety concerns.

Russia cited the same reasons as it initiated bans on Kazakh dairy products, fruits and vegetables this month.

Kazakh producers have struggled to match Russian competitors on price since the Russian ruble lost nearly half its value against the dollar in the past year, due in part to pressure from Western sanctions over Ukraine and low oil prices.

Analysts also say that Moscow's seizure of Crimea and support for Russian-speaking separatists in eastern Ukraine have unnerved former Soviet countries with sizeable Russian minorities.

Kazakhs will go to the polls on Sunday in a vote that is likely to extend 74 year-old Nazarbayev's grip on the country he has ruled since before independence in 1991.


© 2015 AFP

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