In his speech, the President of Kazakhstan stressed that the first Central Asia–China summit is a very important historical event. The Head of State thanked President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping for the excellent organization of the event and traditional hospitality.
He noted that today China continues to strengthen its status as a world power and plays a key role in ensuring global stability and security, and is the engine of economic and technological development.
– Full–scale cooperation with China – one of the largest investors and the world’s leading economy – is a long-term factor of sustainable progress for Kazakhstan. The synergy of the potentials of the Central Asian countries with China’s colossal economic opportunities can set a new, higher trajectory for our multifaceted partnership. Kazakhstan is ready to make every effort to achieve these lofty goals. Currently, Kazakhstan is carrying out large-scale multifaceted reforms aimed at diversifying the national economy. Purposeful work is underway to eliminate barriers and create the most favorable conditions for foreign investors,” Kassym–Jomart Tokayev stressed.
He said that over the years of independence, more than $ 350 billion of foreign direct investment has been attracted to the economy of Kazakhstan. At the same time, investments worth more than $ 23 billion were attracted from China. The President noted that Kazakhstan is ready to continue to actively cooperate in the investment sphere.
– An investment forum was held yesterday as part of my state visit, agreements worth $22 billion were signed. The Kazakh side will make every effort to implement these agreements. Taking into account the geographical location, our country acts as an important transport and logistics corridor of the regional and transcontinental level. In this regard, Kazakhstan is ready to use its trade, economic and logistics potential for the benefit of deepening cooperation with friendly China. The volume of Kazakh-Chinese trade has reached $31 billion, and President Xi and I have agreed to increase it to $40 billion,” the leader of Kazakhstan said.
In his speech, the Head of our State presented priority areas of cooperation that require joint efforts from the leaders of the countries of the region. The first of them is the increase in trade turnover.
– In recent years, intraregional economic relations of the Central Asian countries have reached a qualitatively new level. Last year alone, Kazakhstan’s trade turnover with the countries of the region increased by 19%, amounting to $ 8 billion. In the foreseeable future, we aim to bring this figure to $ 15 billion. The volume of regional trade with China is also growing rapidly. By the end of last year, this figure reached $ 70 billion, of which 45% is accounted for by Kazakhstan ($31 billion). I believe that all the conditions are available to maintain this positive dynamics and achieve the level of trade turnover to $ 100 billion by 2030. The important thing here is to increase exports by expanding the trade nomenclature. For example, Kazakhstan may increase its exports to China by 135 non-primary commodity items. Last month, after three years of downtime due to the pandemic, we resumed the work of the International Trade Center “Khorgos” on the Kazakh-Chinese border. I invite all Central Asian countries, especially those that do not have a common border with China, to jointly use the potential of this important trade and logistics hub. Our plans include the construction together with Chinese investment partners of a second dry port on the border on a qualitatively new basis, taking into account the accumulated experience in this area,” the President of Kazakhstan said.
In his opinion, there are additional opportunities for the growth of mutual trade in the field of e-commerce, in which China is a world leader.
– Chinese Internet giants, for example, Alibaba Group and JD.COM , have tremendous experience and potential in this area. Taking into account the competitive positions of the Central Asian countries, Kazakhstan proposes to make greater use of China’s largest marketplaces for joint product promotion. It is symbolic that Kazakhstan has already opened a National pavilion on the JD.COM platform yesterday. In general, taking into account the prospects of increasing mutual trade, Kazakhstan is actively working on the creation of new customs warehouses. In this regard, for logistical convenience, we offer all partners to place their goods in our warehouses. This will significantly reduce the delivery time of goods to consumers from Central Asian countries to China and back. This work can be synchronized with the introduction of a single electronic trading platform C5+ Chip,” suggested Kassym–Jomart Tokayev.
The President considers the development of transport and logistics infrastructure to be another priority. As he noted, exactly ten years ago in Astana, President Xi Jinping outlined the concept of the Belt and Road megaproject. Over the past time, this initiative has proved its effectiveness and relevance on a global scale.
– As China’s closest neighbor and reliable partner, we will continue to actively participate in the implementation of the joint construction of the Belt and Road. An important step in this direction will be the early opening of the third railway crossing on the Kazakh-Chinese border. One of the key sections of the China–Central Asia–Europe route is the Trans-Caspian International Transport Route. At the current stage, this artery has acquired strategic importance. We intend to systematically increase its capacity through the introduction of digital solutions and infrastructure modernization. Considering that China is the main shipper, we consider it necessary to intensify joint efforts to ensure maximum and uninterrupted loading of this route. We invite Chinese partners to mutually beneficial cooperation in expanding the capabilities of the Caspian Sea ports, digitalizing their activities, as well as joint production of transport vessels. The use of the potential of the Kazakhstan–Turkmenistan–Iran railway also opens up great prospects for our countries,” Tokayev said.
According to him, the deepening of industrial cooperation is intended to become a new reference point for the economic development of the Central Asian countries. China’s involvement in regional projects will certainly contribute to their effective promotion.
– I propose to develop a Plan for industrial cooperation between Central Asia and China, taking into account the advantages and needs of the countries of our region. The development of such a knowledge-intensive sphere as the automotive industry has huge prospects. I would like to note with great satisfaction that cooperation between Kazakhstan and China in this direction is reaching a qualitatively new level. The production of passenger cars and trucks (JAC) has been established, projects for the production of electric vehicles (JAC iEV7S, YUTONG electric buses and Golden Dragon electric buses) have been implemented. Yesterday, agreements were signed on the launch of a small-node assembly of leading Chinese cars in our country. Work is underway on the appropriate infrastructure of electric charging stations in Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan, which has large reserves of lithium, cobalt, nickel and other important rare earth elements, is ready for large-scale cooperation in this industry. We invite Chinese companies to create automobile clusters on the territory of Kazakhstan, in those areas where there are already successful examples of the production of large Chinese brands,” the President said.
He believes that there are great reserves for cooperation in the energy sector, in particular, in the oil and gas sector. As part of the expansion of our oil exports, it is planned to increase the capacity of the Kazakhstan–China oil pipeline.
– The issues of increasing the capacity of the existing Atyrau–Kenkiyak and Kenkiyak–Kumkol oil pipelines are on the agenda. Due to the increase in the consumption of petroleum products, it is also planned to increase the production capacity of the Shymkent Oil Refinery from 6 to 12 million tons per year. The priority direction for Kazakhstan is also the development of gas processing capacities and the gas transportation system. In this regard, the construction of the second line of the Beineu–Bozoi–Shymkent main gas pipeline, as well as the construction of a gas processing plant at the Kashagan field with a capacity of 4 billion cubic meters per year are of great importance to us. We hope for further support of our Chinese friends in promoting these significant projects of regional scale,” Kassym–Jomart Tokayev said.
The President further noted the importance of cooperation in agriculture. Kazakhstan is interested in increasing the volume and diversification of the structure of export supplies of agricultural products to neighboring countries.
– Our country is one of the ten largest producers of wheat and flour in the world, annually exporting over 5 million tons of grain and 1.5 million tons of flour. In particular, our farmers are ready to increase the supply of grain and oilseeds, high-quality and environmentally friendly meat and organic products. In turn, we are interested in stable purchase of fruit and vegetable products and food products. In general, using the mutual potential of our states in the agricultural sector, we can significantly strengthen each other’s food security. Based on common interests, I propose to establish a joint food hub on the basis of the International Trade Center “Khorgos”. Special attention should be paid to the implementation of digital and green technologies in the field of agriculture. In this work, the experience and capabilities of Chinese partners will be in great demand,” the President of Kazakhstan stressed.
In his opinion, another priority area of cooperation is the effective use of transboundary water resources. Central Asia is one of the regions most at risk of freshwater shortages. According to the UN, by 2050, the shortage of drinking water could affect more than 5 billion people.
– The processes of climate change lead to a reduction in the area of glaciers – the main source of water for our region. All this entails serious risks for the food, energy and environmental security of Central Asia, requiring urgent joint measures. Coordinated and rational approaches to the use of available water resources are of paramount importance for all of us. Against this background, it is important to consistently implement effective digital solutions for water conservation and irrigation. China has achieved impressive success in this area. I propose to develop together with China a program for the introduction of new technologies in the water sector,” Tokayev said.
He also drew attention to the development of cultural and educational ties and tourism. According to him, close interpersonal contacts are an important factor in the development of our interstate relations. The signing of an Intergovernmental agreement between Kazakhstan and China on mutual exemption from visa requirements for a period of 30 days meets this goal. The Head of State believes that this important agreement will contribute to the expansion of business contacts and tourist flows between our countries.
– Central Asia has a rich culture, beautiful nature and unique attractions that can undoubtedly be of interest to Chinese tourists. I propose to create a register of Silk Road tour operators with a visa-free regime for group tours and form a single tourist cluster. This will allow tourists from China to visit several Central Asian countries at once during one tour. In addition, cooperation between the regions, in particular, the development of the institute of twin cities, contributes to the strengthening of cultural and humanitarian ties. Yesterday we officially established twinning ties between the cities of Shymkent and Xi’an, as well as our regions – the North Kazakhstan region and Shaanxi Province. The Consulate General of Kazakhstan opens in the city of Xi’an. At the same time, it is important to develop the sphere of science and education, to establish contacts between the youth of our countries. Therefore, we attach exceptional importance to the systematic training of qualified personnel and the development of human capital. At this stage, Kazakhstan is actively working on opening branches of the world’s leading technical universities in the country,” Kassym–Jomart Tokayev said.
At the same time, the importance of regional security and stability was emphasized. Kazakhstan highly appreciates China’s contribution to ensuring regional stability and security. Tokayev believes that Beijing’s unwavering and firm position in favor of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of all states, as well as its firm commitment to the principles of non-interference in their internal affairs, deserves special respect and support.
– Kazakhstan, in turn, supports China’s peaceful foreign policy towards Central Asia. We are ready to continue to promote Beijing’s initiatives aimed at ensuring sustainable growth and universal security. We always advocate that Central Asia should be a space of creation, and we do not accept the transformation of the region into an arena of geopolitical confrontation. The current situation in international politics requires great efforts to build bridges between the competing poles of global politics. The Global Security Initiative put forward by President Xi plays an important role in ensuring the sustainable development of the world and serves as a decisive response to the unprecedented challenges of our time. At the same time, Kazakhstan highly appreciates China’s constructive position on resolving the Ukrainian crisis. As for Afghanistan, we believe that it is important to continue supporting the efforts of the international community to prevent a humanitarian crisis in this country,” the head of Kazakhstan said.
Kassym-Jomart Tokayev said that all the initiatives he expressed confirm Kazakhstan’s desire to strengthen “all-weather” relations and multifaceted cooperation between the countries of the region. Therefore, it is important to steadily follow the strategic course of mutually beneficial partnership.
The second Central Asia–China Summit will be held in Kazakhstan in 2025. ///nCa, 19 May 2023