Bauyrzhan Auken, Senior Expert of the Department of Asian Studies, Kazakhstan Institute for Strategic Studies
On November 1, 2023, the 16th Session of Foreign Ministers of the Cooperation Forum “Central Asia – Republic of Korea” took place in Ashgabat. The session was dedicated to the theme “Collaboration through the realization of the enormous potential of youth in shaping a sustainable future in Central Asia and the Republic of Korea.”
The convening of such a meeting, the 16th in sequence, demonstrates the high effectiveness of the multilateral dialogue. The forum’s regularity has expanded and deepened the range of discussed issues, serving as a significant impetus for strengthening ties in the educational, humanitarian, and cultural spheres.
Currently, South Korea is one of Kazakhstan’s significant partners, representing a model of dynamic economic development and technological breakthrough. The successful experience in various economic sectors and innovations serves as a subject of study for many economists.
Strengthening and expanding strategic cooperation with South Korea is a priority direction in Kazakhstan’s foreign policy. One crucial aspect of this interaction is the examination of successful practices and the implementation of advanced technologies, contributing to the development of Kazakhstan and enhancing the country’s competitiveness on the global stage.
The “Central Asia+” format provides Kazakhstan with numerous advantages in developing bilateral relations, including with South Korea. As the leading economy in the region, Kazakhstan is interested in the continued development and establishment of this forum. For instance, over the past 18 years, Kazakhstan has attracted $9.2 billion in investments, with more than 700 enterprises with Korean capital operating in the country.
In economic terms, Kazakhstan is the primary trading partner of South Korea in Central Asia. The trade turnover between the two countries exceeded $6.1 billion in 2022, demonstrating a growth of 2.3 times. Last year also marked a historical record in attracting investments into the Kazakh economy, totaling $1.5 billion. Additionally, there is a positive trend in Kazakhstani exports, which have doubled.
In its pursuit of diversifying trade routes, Kazakhstan is developing the Middle Corridor, facilitating trade with countries in the Middle East and the West. The country’s geographical position allows it to attract South Korean investments in the trade and logistics sector. South Korea is also interested in cooperation in the transport and logistics sphere, involving the creation of transport and logistics centers and comprehensive terminals.
On August 31, 2023, a round table on the topic of transportation took place in Aktau, during which the President of the Busan Economic Development Agency expressed interest in implementing investment projects in this industry.
In the field of mechanical engineering, strategic partners from South Korea are introducing advanced technologies and innovations, contributing to the development of modern manufacturing processes in Kazakhstan. This year, the Kia plant launched semi-knocked-down (SKD) production in Kazakhstan, which is the only one of its kind in Central Asia and the CIS.
Currently, Kazakhstan and South Korea are focused on developing cooperation in advanced areas such as digital technologies, electronics, healthcare, green energy, and the creative economy. Important roles in this regard are played by structures like the Kazakhstan-Korea Intergovernmental Commission on Trade, Economic, and Scientific-Technical Cooperation and the Business Council.
In general, cooperation with the Republic of Korea in Kazakhstan remains consistently high. South Korea is one of the most important and promising strategic partners for Kazakhstan and Central Asia as a whole in East Asia, especially in the fields of innovation and new technologies. /// KazISS under the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, 14 November 2023
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