Kazakhstan, US continue to foster economic co-operation amid 'flourishing' relations

By Aydar Ashimov

One of the key areas of future co-operation between the United States and Kazakhstan is information technology. [File]

One of the key areas of future co-operation between the United States and Kazakhstan is information technology. [File]

NUR-SULTAN -- Kazakhstan is continuing to bolster economic co-operation with the United States, one of its "key investment partners", the Kazakh Foreign Ministry said.

The ministry hosted a US-Kazakh business forum May 15 in Nur-Sultan.

Kazakh-US co-operation has taken many forms, including efforts to combat the smuggling of nuclear and radioactive materials that could be used in a terror attack.

Several Kazakh cabinet ministers and a number of government agency directors attended this year's business forum, according to the ministry.

Officials from various Kazakh ministries attend a Nur-Sultan business forum May 15. [Kazakh Foreign Ministry]

Officials from various Kazakh ministries attend a Nur-Sultan business forum May 15. [Kazakh Foreign Ministry]

The United States was represented by the US embassy in Kazakhstan, the Overseas Private Investment Corp. and leaders of 28 large American companies including Coca-Cola, Gilead, HP, Microsoft and Valley Irrigation.

The first two US-Kazakhstan Business Forums took place in 2017 and 2018.

A strategic partner

"The United States is one of our key investment partners; Kazakhstan is interested in the extensive use of the United States' investment opportunities," Kazakh Foreign Minister Beibut Atamkulov said at the forum.

"Considering the American leadership in innovations and advanced technologies, Kazakhstan would like to attract the best experience and know-how of the American side," Atamkulov said.

Topics at the forum included promising new horizons for co-operation: industrial and infrastructure development, health care, agriculture, information technology, digitisation, aerospace manufacturing and energy.

"Developing co-operation with the United States is a priority in our nation's foreign policy," the ministry said in a statement May 15.

"Kazakh-American relations are flourishing as part of an expanded strategic partnership and agreements reached as a result of the official visit of the first president of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, to the United States," said the statement, referring to a visit in January 2018.

At the time, analysts from the Institute of World Economics and Politics, a Kazakh think-tank, called that visit "the beginning of a new chapter in the countries' relations [that] has already led to a number of important results".

In the past three years, the volume of direct investment from the United States in the mining industry alone more than tripled, reaching more than $5 billion (1.9 trillion KZT), Roman Sklyar, the Kazakh minister of industry and infrastructure development, said in a statement.

"We're already seeing positive results from co-operation with American companies such as Chevron, General Electric, Halliburton, NalcoChampion, Weatherford, Flowserve and others," Sklyar said at the forum.

Work is under way on several promising ventures worth a total of $450 million (170 billion KZT), noted participants at the forum. These include construction in Kazakhstan of a plant to produce steel molds and catalytic converters, assembly of aircraft for the regional air fleet and more.

A 'significant contribution'

"American investment is already making a significant contribution to Kazakhstan's economy," Shymkent-based political analyst Rauan Dautaliyev said.

Over the last year, the United States poured $5.3 billion (2 trillion KZT) in direct investment into Kazakhstan. In 2018, trade between the two countries reached more than $2.2 billion (832 billion KZT), according to figures from the Foreign Ministry.

Exports from Kazakhstan to the United States amounted to $956 million (361 billion KZT), while imports by Kazakhstan from the United States totaled $1.2 billion (454 billion KZT).

In the 28 years since Kazakhstan became independent, the Kazakh and US governments have signed more than 70 agreements.

"From one year to the next, we're seeing co-operation deepen, and the volume of trade and investments in our country is growing," said Dautaliyev. "The United States is ... one of Kazakhstan's most important partners."

The United States has invested considerable sums in "the establishment of democratic values, understanding of the importance of human rights and respect for the rule of law in Kazakhstan", he added.

"For many Kazakh schoolchildren and university students, learning English and then studying in the United States are a dream that can absolutely come true if they participate in American educational programmes," Dautaliyev said.

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