ASTANA – Kazakhstan and the European Union (EU) plan to enhance cooperation in trade, digital, energy, and transport, announced Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Mukhtar Tileuberdi and the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission Josep Borrell during a press conference on Nov. 17 in Astana.
Borrell, who is on his first official visit to Kazakhstan, said Kazakhstan is the EU’s biggest trading partner in Central Asia. “The EU is by far the largest foreign investor in Kazakhstan, representing 60 percent of foreign direct investment,” he said.
“The memorandum of understanding on sustainable raw materials, batteries, and renewable hydrogen value chains signed early this month will further expand this relationship,” he added.
In fact, according to Tileuberdi, the total volume of foreign direct investment of the EU to Kazakhstan exceeded $160 billion. “This year alone, over the nine months, the volume of trade between Kazakhstan and the EU countries reached $29.5 billion, increasing by 42 percent,” said the minister.
Tileuberdi told reporters that the two sides are interested in the effective implementation of the Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement between Kazakhstan and the EU, which entered into force in March 2020 and covers 29 areas of cooperation.
Borrell expressed his support for the political reforms initiated by President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.
“We discussed Kazakhstan’s ambitious political reform process,” said Borrell. “The upcoming elections are an important opportunity for Kazakhstan to demonstrate a clear will to ensure the full implementation of this ambitious reform agenda. I underlined the EU’s support in this regard.”
Kazakhstan and the EU, which are due to celebrate 30 years of diplomatic relations next year, are going to continue the dialogue in all priority areas, said the Kazakh foreign minister.
“We are interested in further diversifying the dialogue in the trade and economic sphere, with a focus on deepening cooperation in agriculture, the transition to a green economy, energy efficiency, digitalization, transport and logistics,” he said.
“Given the current geopolitical situation, we noted the importance of developing international transport corridors to ensure a global supply chain of goods. In particular, we considered the EU’s support for the development of the Trans-Caspian International Transport Route,” added Tileuberdi.
Borrell expressed similar views saying that “we aim at stepping up our cooperation in the context of the EU‘s Global Gateway strategy, which aims at boosting smart, clean and secure links in the digital, energy, and transport sectors.”
Borrell’s visit comes ahead of the annual EU-Central Asia ministerial meeting and EU-Central Asia Connectivity Conference on Nov. 17-18 in Samarkand and represents “mutual commitment between the EU and Central Asia to strengthening cooperation on sustainable connectivity, in this key region for global trade.”
Earlier in the day, Borrell met with President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev where the two sides discussed ways to expand the bilateral partnership.