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Kazakh Minister of Trade: Kazakhstan can foster a more favorable environment for local and global trade and investment


ASTANA – His Excellency Arman Shakaliyev, Minister of Trade and Integration of Kazakhstan, stressed the importance of trade relations between his country and the United Arab Emirates, explaining joint plans to promote the development of digital prosperity and the development of the artificial intelligence industry along with enhancing traditional trade between the two countries, noting that the volume of trade exchange between them has been reached. 329 million dollars during the past year, at a time when the UAE’s large investments in Kazakhstan are increasing, amounting to approximately 494.1 million US dollars in 2023, compared to the figures achieved amounting to 415.7 million US dollars in 2022. During the following dialogue, the Minister spoke about the most important aspects of trade relations. Between the two countries.

The minister added:” Kazakhstan can strengthen its position within the WTO framework, foster a more conducive environment for trade and investment, and ultimately drive sustainable economic growth for the country”.

Q: What are the key aspects of trade and economic cooperation between Kazakhstan and the UAE in the context of concluding preferential trade agreements?

The UAE is one of Kazakhstan’s key partners in the Middle East. Several intergovernmental agreements are in place between our countries, aimed at deepening trade and economic cooperation, promoting and protecting investments. We attach great importance to the further development of our relationship.

In 2023, the trade turnover between Kazakhstan and the UAE amounted to $329 million, with Kazakhstan’s exports reaching $210 million and imports from the UAE totaling $119 million.

The main export items from Kazakhstan include crude oil ($87.2 million), copper and copper cathodes ($38.4 million), and silver ($19.1 million). The primary imports from the UAE consist of plastic plates and sheets ($14.3 million), computers ($13.8 million), and internal combustion engines ($10.8 million).

Considering the significant potential for the development of trade and economic cooperation with the United Arab Emirates as one of the largest economies in the Middle East, negotiations have been initiated between the member states of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) and the UAE to conclude a free trade agreement for goods. These negotiations are actively ongoing, and we are determined to achieve a successful outcome.

Furthermore, mutual negotiations between Kazakhstan and the UAE have commenced to conclude agreements on free trade in services and investments. We believe that reaching these agreements will further strengthen the trade, economic, and investment cooperation between our countries.

The UAE’s substantial investments in Kazakhstan, nearly 494.1 million US dollars in 2023 (415.7 million US dollars in 2022), indicate positive economic relations.

Q: What are the methods and importance of strengthening the fruitful economic partnership with the UAE?

For Kazakhstan, the UAE represents not only a country with colossal energy resources, but also a rapidly developing modern tourism, transportation, logistics, and manufacturing hub in the Middle East. The UAE is Kazakhstan’s largest trading partner in the Middle East. Thanks to its tax-free system, strong economy, and the demand for goods from Kazakhstan in the UAE, the Emirates rightfully stand as one of the most desirable destinations for Kazakhstan’s businessmen.

The UAE market is the most promising region in terms of trade development. The trade and economic potential between our countries is immense. Last year, the leaders of our nations set a target to increase bilateral trade to $1 billion, which presents new tasks and directions before us. 

Now, concerning the approaches we will use in order to successfully reach that goal.

Kazakhstan sets a goal to increase to increase mutual trade with the UAE, in particular, to increase the supply of high-quality products. We are ready to offer a competitive product from a variety of industries.

Kazakhstan’s agriculture is well-known around the world, we have a rich history in this sector.  We are ready and willing to produce and supply organic agricultural products to the UAE market. A prime example is domestically chilled lamb meat, which has become recognizable in the UAE market.  

Next, it is important to mention that Kazakhstan is fostering digital prosperity development. We look to cooperate in the IT-sector of the UAE, as well as development of artificial intelligence.

One of the restraining factors for increasing trade flows from Kazakhstan to the UAE is logistics. Currently, the Central Asian region is becoming a key link in global transportation, playing an important role as a continental bridge in the “North-South” and “East-West” directions. Work is being carried out with major logistics companies such as Simatech Shipping & Forwarding and Abu Dhabi Ports to develop a new transport route and create port infrastructure in our country for the delivery of agricultural products from Kazakhstan’s port of Kuryk to the Persian Gulf countries through the ports of Amirabad and Bandar Abbas in Iran.

With these proactive measures and strategic resources, Kazakhstan aims to elevate its economic partnership with the UAE to unprecedented levels, contributing to global trade restoration and enhancement.

Q: The role of Kazakhstan in the WTO and outcome expectations of Kazakhstan from MC-13 WTO

Kazakhstan, as a recently acceded member of the WTO, is a strong supporter of the multilateral trading system. We see the paramount importance of the Organization in providing stability, security and predictability for global trade.

Due to its strategic geographical location at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, Kazakhstan plays an important role in facilitating international trade flows.

With its commitment to enhancing connectivity and fostering economic integration across regions, Kazakhstan continues to be an active participant in global supply chains. 

Overall, the WTO has helped Kazakhstan integrate into the international trade system, giving us recognition as a country with a predictable trade and investment regime. This recognition is vital for attracting diverse investments and diversifying our national economy.

The main priorities of Kazakhstan from the WTO are 1) reform of the WTO, including the full restoration of the work of the Dispute Settlement Body, 2) development of electronic commerce, including a solution to non-payment customs duties on the import of electronic transmissions, 3) reforming agricultural subsidies in order to equalize competitive conditions between producers of WTO member countries, 4) trade in services, 5) increasing the participation of women, small and medium-sized enterprises in international trade.

Kazakhstan is currently under the process of reviewing its trade policies under the WTO’s TPR mechanism. This is, amongst other things, important to align with WTO standards to stay competitive in the global market.

Q: What do think about the participating in negotiations to conclude a new WTO in Abu Dhabi?

Kazakhstan is participating in negotiations to conclude a new WTO Investment Facilitation for Development Agreement. This issue will be one of the key results of the 13th Ministerial Conference of WTO. 123 WTO members, including Kazakhstan, became parties to this agreement. Participation in the Investment Facilitation for Development Agreement is consistent with Kazakhstan’s national priorities of diversifying the economy by improving the investment and business climate.

As we are aware, the WTO MC-13 is launched and finished in in Abu Dhabi. The WTO MC-13 agenda covers more than ten key global trade issues, such as trade and development, WTO dispute resolution reform, agriculture, fishing subsidies, e-commerce, and industrial supply chains. The accession of two new members, Comoros Islands and the Republic of Timor, is expected during the conference. Given current challenges, WTO MC-13 is crucial for global trade, providing a platform for ministers to endorse measures promoting growth and creating opportunities. Kazakhstan’s involvement offers a chance to contribute to world trade development and protect its economic interests globally. By implementing these measures, Kazakhstan can strengthen its position within the WTO framework, foster a more conducive environment for trade and investment, and ultimately drive sustainable economic growth for the country.


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