19 May 2023, 18:16
Prime Minister of Kazakhstan Alikhan Smailov spoke at the high-level session within the framework of the European Union-Central Asia Second Economic Forum in Almaty.
The event was attended by Executive Vice President of the European Commission Valdis Dombrovskis, Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers – Head of the Presidential Administration of Kyrgyzstan Akylbek Japarov, Prime Minister of Tajikistan Kohir Rasulzoda, Deputy Prime Minister of Uzbekistan Jamshid Khodjaev, Minister of Finance and Economy of Turkmenistan Serdar Dzhoraev, President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development Odile Renaud-Basso and Vice President of the European Investment Bank Teresa Czerwińska.
In his speech, Alikhan Smailov noted that mutually beneficial partnership relations between Astana and Brussels are the result of long-term, pragmatic and progressive cooperation.
"We welcome the dynamic development of cooperation with the European Union, both bilaterally and at the interregional level. Thanks to the joint efforts of the countries of the region today, Central Asia is an actively developing zone of great opportunities. Our countries harmoniously complement each other, and the main pivot remains cooperation in the trade and economic sphere," he said.
Prime Minister stressed that at the end of last year the trade turnover between Central Asia and the European Union grew by 61% to about $49 billion, and there are serious reserves for significant increase of this index.
According to him, last year was a breakthrough year in cooperation between Central Asia and the European Union. Thus, an important agreement was reached with Svevind on the installation of wind and solar power plants in the country and the production of 3 million tons of green hydrogen, which will account for one-fifth of the EU needs in this product.
In addition, a memorandum in the field of rare earth metals was signed in the framework of the UN conference on climate change "COP-27", which will contribute to the establishment of financial and technological cooperation between Kazakhstan and the EU industrial alliances.
"We are interested in further expansion of investment cooperation and diversification of mutual trade. Already today, more than 3,000 companies with European capital are successfully operating in various sectors of our country's economy, including such global giants as Shell, Eni, Total, Air Liquide, Alstom, Siemens, Linde Group," Alikhan Smailov said.
At the same time, Kazakhstan can offer the EU more than 175 types of processed goods worth over $2.3 billion a year in such sectors as mechanical engineering, iron and steel production, food industry and agriculture. In particular, as a major grain producer, the republic could become a strategic partner of the EU in implementing the global food agenda.
Another priority for Kazakhstan is to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060. Today, green energy accounts for 5% of the total electricity production, excluding large hydropower plants. Meanwhile, the republic's goal is to introduce at least 7 gigawatts by 2030, bringing the share of renewable energy sources to 15%.
"Kazakhstan is ready to stimulate "green" transition in Central Asia. In this context, I would like to mention the capabilities of the Astana International Financial Center, which is an important platform for attracting green investments, based on British law, with an independent Court and an International Arbitration Center," the Prime Minister noted.
Alikhan Smailov emphasized that Central Asia is home to important transport routes and fast-growing markets. At the same time, Kazakhstan's geographical location and well-developed transport infrastructure offer great opportunities for cooperation in transport and logistics.
To this end, Kazakhstan is promoting the creation of logistics centers of the wholesale and distribution network, such as the international center of industrial cooperation with Uzbekistan and the industrial trade and logistics complex with Kyrgyzstan.
"In parallel, we are implementing two large trade and logistics hubs on the territory of our country: in Almaty agglomeration and in West Kazakhstan region. They will connect trade and logistics routes between China, Central Asia, Europe and the Middle East," Alikhan Smailov said.
He also noted the dynamic development of the Trans-Caspian international transport route. Thus, due to joint efforts the period of cargo transportation from China to Europe reduced almost three times from 53 to 19-23 days. The next target in this part is 14-18 days by the end of this year.
"At the same time, the period of transit through the territory of Kazakhstan reduced by 2 times - from 12 to 6 days, and we aim to reduce it to 5 days by the end of the year," the Prime Minister stressed.
In conclusion, Alikhan Smailov outlined the prospects for strengthening cooperation between Kazakhstan and the EU in the field of digitalization, which is one of the key drivers of economic development.
He noted that Kazakhstan had set a strategic goal to become one of the largest digital hubs in the region. Already today, the country is dynamically developing relevant banking ecosystems, there is rapid growth in digital commerce, and work is underway on the digital transformation of government.
"In March this year, Microsoft announced the opening of the Multiregional Hub in Kazakhstan, which will become a center for attracting advanced technologies and know-how. The hub will cover not only Central Asia, but also Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Mongolia and Pakistan," the Prime Minister said.
According to him, in this context, Kazakhstan is ready to actively participate in the implementation of digital initiatives of the European Union in Central Asia.#Alikhan Smailov #International Cooperation #The Prime Minister of the Republic of Kazakhstan #Economy