Despite the unprecedented geopolitical aggravation, the Central Asian countries have strengthened the intraregional dialogue. Much of the credit for this goes for the European Union, President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev said at the second regional high–level meeting “Central Asia – European Union” in Cholpon-Ata.
In his speech, Tokayev highlighted the main areas of cooperation between the EU and Kazakhstan, which may be important for the entire region.
“At the end of last year, the inflow of European investments to Kazakhstan increased by 23%, amounting to $ 12.5 billion. Of the $350 billion in foreign direct investment attracted to Kazakhstan over the 30 years of Independence, almost half is of European origin. The European Union is Kazakhstan’s largest trading partner, accounting for more than 40% of our foreign trade. Last year, the mutual trade turnover between Kazakhstan and the EU countries amounted to $ 40 billion. I believe that we have every opportunity to bring this figure to $ 50 billion by 2025,” the President said.
As he noted, more than three thousand companies with the European capital operate in Kazakhstan, including such multinational corporations as Shell, Eni, Total, Air Liquide, Alstom, Siemens and others.
“One of the breakthrough projects was the start of construction by the German-Swedish company Svevind of wind and solar power plants and the production of three million tons of “green” hydrogen in Kazakhstan. This is about 20% of the EU’s needs for this product,” Tokayev said.
One of the priorities in the development of EU-Central Asia cooperation is the transport and logistics infrastructure. According to the President, the Trans-Caspian International Transport Route has gained strategic importance at the current stage.
“I think it can significantly increase the level of interaction between our regions. During a recent state visit to China, we and our Chinese partners launched the construction of a logistics terminal in Xi’an. We expect that this port will become an important hub for sending direct container trains via Central Asia to Europe. We also agreed to link the Trans–Caspian route with the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative,” Tokayev said.
The diversification of energy transportation routes was mentioned prominently in Tokayev’s remarks.
According to the leader of Kazakhstan, currently 80% of Kazakhstan’s oil exports to Europe are carried out through the Caspian Pipeline Consortium. He expressed hope for further support from the EU to ensure long-term and stable supplies through this strategically important oil pipeline.
Among other routes is the Aktau- Baku–Tbilisi–Ceyhan route transporting 1.5 million tons per year. At the same time, Kazakhstan began to supply oil to Germany through the Druzhba pipeline. Since the beginning of this year, 90 thousand tons of oil have already been delivered. There is a potential to bring the supplies to 1.2 million tons per year.
In addition, such areas as climate and the “green transition” were named among the priorities of cooperation.
“We believe that in this vein it is advisable to intensify joint efforts within the framework of the implementation of the Global Gateway strategy and Team Europe initiatives on climate change, water resources, and the development of renewable energy sources in Central Asia,” Kassym-Jomart Tokayev believes.
Speaking about the development of digitalization, the President pointed to the wide opportunities for cooperation arising from the opening of a Microsoft Multi-regional hub in Kazakhstan, which will become a center for attracting advanced technologies.
“We have set a task to train at least 100,000 highly qualified IT specialists by 2025. Therefore, I invite European universities to open branches in Kazakhstan, including on the basis of the Astana Hub technopark, which has become an important regional IT platform. In general, we plan to scale our developments in the field of digitalization and share our experience at the regional level,” the head of Kazakhstan said.
Concluding his remarks, the leader of Kazakhstan highly appreciated the support of the European Union in promoting the foreign policy initiatives of Kazakhstan and the implementation of large-scale democratic transformations. ///nCa, 3 June 2023 [photo credit – Akorda]
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