In his speech at the GCC-Central Asia summit in Jeddah on 19 July 2023, the President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev noted that the meeting of the leaders of Central Asia and the Arab states of the Gulf is of a special nature, is the call of the times and testifies to the mutual desire to bring our multifaceted cooperation to a qualitatively new level. According to him, in a bilateral format, the countries have established very strong and harmonious interstate relations, maintain a trusting and active political dialogue, develop mutually beneficial trade and economic cooperation, and invariably strengthen cultural and humanitarian ties.
“In the international arena, our states adhere to common or similar views on global sustainable development, share common goals to ensure universal security and stability. Undoubtedly, historical ties, common spiritual values, bonds of friendship and brotherhood serve as a solid foundation for our relations. Kazakhstan attaches exceptional importance to today’s meeting. The Gulf countries, with their huge political influence, economic and investment potential, are our most important partners in many key areas. The intensification of intra-regional cooperation between the states of Central Asia and the strengthening of the global significance of the region opens up completely new opportunities for expanding our multifaceted interaction. Undoubtedly, the CA+ dialogue formats make a significant contribution to this matter,”, he said.
The leader of Kazakhstan is convinced that the synergy of the potentials of the Central Asian countries and the colossal opportunities of the Gulf countries can set a higher level for multifaceted partnership. He presented his vision of priority areas for further cooperation in this dialogue format.
“First of all, the expansion of trade and economic ties. I note with satisfaction the dynamic growth of trade between our region and the countries of the Cooperation Council that has begun in recent years. But the figures do not yet reflect our real potential. We have every opportunity to significantly increase mutual trade. To do this, we need to increase the range of mutual trade. For example, Kazakhstan is ready to increase its exports to the Gulf countries in the shortest possible time by 100 commodity items in the amount of about $400 million”, Tokayev emphasized.
The second direction is the activation of investment cooperation. According to the UNCTAD report, last year alone, the inflow of net investments into Central Asia increased by 40% and amounted to $10 billion, of which 60% came from Kazakhstan.
“Over the years of independence, the Gulf countries have invested about $3.6 billion in the economy of Kazakhstan. Therefore, we are interested in building up investment ties. To this end, we are carrying out large-scale economic reforms aimed at diversifying the economy, including creating the most favorable conditions for foreign investment. The Business Council recently established by Kazakhstan and Saudi Arabia is intended to become an important platform for realizing the trade and investment potential of the two countries. We are ready to launch similar cooperation mechanisms with all member states of the Cooperation Council. We invite our partners to actively use the advanced tools of the Astana International Financial Center,” the President of Kazakhstan noted.
In his opinion, it is important to develop the transit and transport sector. Currently, the countries of the region are taking active measures to diversify routes and develop various infrastructure and logistics projects. In particular, Kazakhstan gives priority to building the capacity of the Trans-Caspian International Transport Route.
“We intend to systematically increase the cargo flow through this route and bring it to 500,000 containers per year by 2030. In addition, Kazakhstan is taking measures to develop the North-South International Transport Corridor”, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev said.
Another priority area in the speech was the deepening of energy cooperation. There are more than 30 billion tons of proven oil reserves and more than 20 trillion cubic meters of gas on the territory of the Central Asian states. This makes the region the second largest in the world in terms of oil and gas resources after the Arabian Peninsula.
“Kazakhstan, as a member of the OPEC+ Agreement, highly appreciates cooperation with the countries of the Organization and is ready to deepen all-round cooperation. Our country is actively working to diversify energy transportation routes. At the same time, Kazakhstan pays special attention to the modernization and development of new generating capacities, the attraction of advanced experience and technologies in the field of exploration and production, as well as the development of a modern petrochemical industry. Kazakhstan is ready for close cooperation with major energy companies of your countries, in particular, in the field of “green” energy. Projects with the Saudi company ACWA Power, the UAE’s Masdar, and Qatari companies look promising. Recently, at a meeting of the Council of Heads of State – members of the SCO, I proposed to hold an International Energy Forum in Kazakhstan”, Tokayev said.
The head of state dwelled on the issues of food security. He informed about the interest of Kazakhstan in increasing the volume and diversifying the structure of export deliveries of agricultural goods to the Arab countries.
“Our country is one of the ten largest producers of wheat and flour in the world. The experience and capabilities of Arab partners in the production, processing and certification of organic and halal products are in high demand. In this context, we consider it necessary to continue work on the synchronization of standards, the system of technical regulation and certification. We can effectively implement all these tasks using the potential of the Islamic Food Security Organization. We are sincerely grateful to the leadership of Qatar for their active efforts as the country chairing the IOFS. Separately, I want to note the significant contribution of Saudi Arabia to supporting the activities of this Organization. In order to strengthen global food security, I propose to create a Mechanism of meetings of ministers of agriculture to expand cooperation in this area”, he said.
Tokayev considers the development of interregional tourism to be an important area of cooperation. “Central Asia has unique tourism resources that need to be used. The tourism industry is considered one of the fastest growing sectors of the region’s economy. In this regard, we are ready to develop the mutual promotion of the tourist product in the cultural, educational, environmental, sports, health and business fields. To date, Kazakhstan has introduced a visa-free regime for all countries of the Cooperation Council of Arab States, and also established direct air communication with your capitals,” Kassym-Jomart Tokayev noted.
At the end of his speech, the President emphasized that the initiatives expressed confirm the desire of Kazakhstan to strengthen cooperation in the interests of ensuring mutual sustainable growth and prosperity.
/// nCa, 20 July 2023
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