UPDATE 1-Kazakh flour millers will meet domestic needs if export ban lifted

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ALMATY, March 26 (Reuters) - Flour millers in Kazakhstan will commit to meeting all domestic supply needs if the government lifts a blanket ban on wheat flour exports, Yevgeniy Gan, president of the millers’ union, said on Thursday.

Gan said the union hoped the ban, introduced to ensure a steady supply of food during the coronavirus emergency, would be lifted in two to three days, adding that there were no flour shortages on the local market.

The former Soviet republic is an important flour supplier to its Central Asian neighbours such as Uzbekistan and some countries further away such as Afghanistan.

Gan said it made little sense to restrict exports of flour without regulating trade in wheat as well, which Kazakhstan continues to export freely, including through Black Sea ports.

The Nur-Sultan government imposed the ban this week and said it would last at least until April 15. It has indicated that the duration of the coronavirus emergency could be extended.

Kazakhstan has reported 97 cases of the disease. (Reporting by Olzhas Auyezov; Additional reporting by Polina Devitt in Moscow; Editing by Jan Harvey and David Clarke)