India and Kazakhstan can build a strong and mutually beneficial partnership in the oil sector - Ambassador Nagendra Prasad

India and Kazakhstan
Photo credit: Adlet Beremkulov/Kazinform

India, with its advanced technology in the energy sector, can offer expertise and technology transfer to enhance Kazakhstan's oil extraction and refining capabilities, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of India Dr. T.V. Nagendra Prasad said in an interview to Kazinform News Agency correspondent. This exchange of knowledge, in his opinion, can benefit both nations in optimizing their oil-related processes. He also revealed how Kazakh companies can invest and participate in the growing Indian defense-manufacturing sector, touched upon a tremendous scope for cooperation in metals and minerals, oil, smartphones, pharmaceuticals and wheat gluten exports between the two countries and highlighted the growing number of Indian tourists in Kazakhstan.

Your Excellency, it was noted that in the first eight months of 2023, Kazakhstan exported 263.5 thousand tons of crude oil and petroleum products to India. This means that it is 5.6 times lower than the figure for eight months of 2022 (it was 1.4 million tons). Why it is happening? Was that influenced by the fact that Russia increased oil exports to India?

Indian refineries import oil from the countries which offer them the most competitive rate under favorable terms pertaining to credit etc. India is the world’s third-largest consumer of crude oil and depends on imports to meet over 85 per cent of its requirements. Currently India is the fastest growing large economy in the world with increased energy requirements. It has been the government’s policy to permit Indian refineries, which are either private or public sector units to source crude as per their interest. Also, India has been diversifying its import sources to sustain both supplies and price but there is no single reason.

Last year, Kazakhstan exported about 500 thousand tons of wheat gluten to India. Why wheat gluten and not pure wheat or flour?

India, through Green Revolution, increased its food grains production which enabled exports in the recent years from India. This includes wheat and rice. Please note that India, being the second largest wheat producer in the world, exported 7 millions tons during the previous year. Hence, India imports only gluten for particular industry from other countries and not wheat or flour.

India has reduced the volume of smartphones exported to our country by 27.4%. Was this the influence of sanctions imposed on Russia, or does it indicate a decrease in the solvency of Kazakhstanis?

India is the second largest mobile manufacturer in the world and exported $10.5 billion worth phones in the first 9 months of 2023. Many international brands like Apple, Samsung and even Chinese brands like Oppo, Vivo, Xiaomi are being produced and assembled in India. India has not reduced any exports to Kazakhstan but the reduction could be the outcome of market forces. It is likely to see increase in imports from India in the future due to rise in production of mobile phones and growing semi-conductor industry in India which makes them more affordable.

India and Kazakhstan
Photo credit: Adlet Beremkulov/Kazinform

The volume of passenger cars exported to Kazakhstan from your country has increased by 13.6 times. In 8 months, 1.2 thousand cars entered the country. However, Chinese cars are more popular among Kazakhstanis than Indian cars. How much do you think Indian cars are suitable for the climate of Kazakhstan? In general, are models being produced adapted to our market or does India modify current models adapted to the harsh climate in Kazakhstan?

Indian passenger car industry is worth about US$ 40 billion. The domestic market is strong and growing at 6% per annum. Hence, the export is not very high but the industry is keen to export to any destination. Several factors including climate, as you mentioned, influence export of cars, but it can be overcome. The popular brands of Korea and Japan are made in India, which are popular here and they might find place in Kazakh car market.

After the problems with the Caspian Pipeline Consortium, Kazakhstan began to pay attention to alternative oil export routes. What partnership mechanisms can India offer in this context? In general, your country is the largest oil consumer market on the Eurasian continent after China. Can you tell us how much oil can India export from our country per year, taking into account the logistics, the specifics of the quality of Kazakhstan's oil? Or, is the current volume enough for your country?

Potential collaborations might include joint ventures in infrastructure development or agreements to enhance logistical efficiency. India can also consider investing in the development of downstream oil infrastructure. This would help in streamlining the transportation and storage of oil, making the process more efficient and cost-effective. India, with its advanced technology in the energy sector, can offer expertise and technology transfer to enhance Kazakhstan's oil extraction and refining capabilities. This exchange of knowledge can benefit both nations in optimizing their oil-related processes. Given the geographical challenges of transport between the two countries, improving logistics and infrastructure is crucial. Investment in transportation infrastructure, like railways and ports, can help in ensuring a reliable and efficient supply chain. Establishing long-term oil supply contracts can provide stability and predictability for both India and Kazakhstan. This allows for better planning and investment in the energy sector. By focusing on these aspects, India and Kazakhstan can build a strong and mutually beneficial partnership in the oil sector, contributing to energy security and economic development for both nations.

According to some sources, India covers a third of the world's drug market with its products. However, the fact that the drug" Doc-1 max" that caused the death of 18 year-old child in Uzbekistan greatly overshadowed the reputation of Indian pharmaceuticals. Now antivaxers are increasingly using such data as an argument against vaccinations. In this context, has India increased control over drug production? Can we say that Kazakhstanis have all reasons to use Indian medicines without concern?

It is well known that India has a significant presence in the global pharmaceutical market and is known as ‘the Pharmacy of the World.’ India has been a major supplier of generic drugs worldwide. India has regulatory authorities like the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO) that oversees drug manufacturing. After the very unfortunate and an isolated incident you mentioned, the Government has instituted thorough inspection including active ingredients to prevent any such incidences. Kazakhstan relies on its own regulatory mechanisms to assess and approve imported pharmaceuticals. Recently, India supplied 1 million doses of measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine manufactured by Serum Institute of India to Kazakhstan and India continues to be a major supplier due to quality and affordability.

India's experience in the field of defense is important for Kazakhstan. An example of this is the holding of a joint anti-terrorist training camp. Until February 2022, the two countries had similar arms import policies. Western publications wrote that India gave up Russian weapons and withdrew a multibillion-dollar contract. Can you tell that this information is true? What percentage has the volume of military arsenal imported from Russia has been decreased in 2022 and 2023? What country`s products have been replaced with?

Radical changes in the arms procurement policies and structure of the Indian Defense Industry have been implemented since 2014. This has to a large extent made us independent of external supply and added hugely to India’s national security. Moreover, India has changed from being one of the world’s largest weapons importers to exporting 1.9 billion dollars worth of defense hardware in 2022-2023. In doing so, we have been able to assist 85 partner countries in meeting their national security needs.

India and Kazakhstan
Photo credit: Adlet Beremkulov/Kazinform

India considers Kazakhstan a brotherly country and we believe that there are special opportunities for collaboration between the Indian and Kazakh defense industry. Kazakh companies can invest and participate in the growing Indian defense-manufacturing sector under ‘Make in India’ and Indian companies are ready to share their expertise and technology with Kazakh partners as well as invest in Kazakhstan. The Government of India provides a line-of-credit, which is being availed by 65 countries worldwide, to enhance their civil as well as security infrastructure.

What did the" C5+India " format give to India? What is the role of Kazakhstan in this format? India is one of the leading markets on the continent in the field of computer programming and mechanical engineering, pharmaceuticals. To what extent is India ready to share its technologies with Kazakhstan in these areas? Are there any plans in the future to open joint ventures for smartphone assembly, machine building, pharma or medicine production?

C5+India format began in year 2019 as a dialogue platform at the level of Foreign Ministers. Since 2022, it has been elevated to the Summit level, i.e., at the Head of State/Govt level. These platforms give an opportunity for an interaction of our leadership at the highest level at regular intervals.

Few highlights and achievements:

· Regular interaction at the level of President/Prime Minister, Foreign Minister, NSA (Secretaries of the Security Council)

· 100 member youth delegation to India (in November 2022, March 2024)

· Targeted approach: Joint Working Groups on transit, trade, counter-terrorism, etc.

· Technical and Economic Cooperation

I am happy to note the high percentage of cashless transactions in Kazakhstan. India leads the world in digital payments through Unified Payments Interface (UPI). During the India-Central Asia NSA Dialogue in October 2023, India offered Unified Payment Interface (UPI) technology to all central Asian Countries free of cost. India is ready to share experience and technology of the National Stack, Digital currency, RUPAY card, etc. Also, there is a tremendous scope for cooperation in metals and minerals. India offered assistance in survey of minerals, particularly rare earths in Kazakhstan to collaborate in this important sector.

There is an opinion that labor is cheaper in India due to the large population. Is it really like that? From this point of view, how profitable is it for your investors to open a joint venture in our country?

Indian workers and professionals are known to help build several economies across the world. In the Gulf region, we have an Indian community of about 9 million, which is appreciated by the respective countries for their rich contributions. Similarly, healthcare, IT, mining, minerals, and infrastructure industries need law abiding, expert and hard working professionals. The joint ventures in these sectors certainly can utilize this workforce from India. As you know, India has the largest human resource pool for these sectors.

In 2021, Minister of External Affairs of India made a proposal to President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev on mutual recognition of vaccine certificates of the two countries. Is the proposal being implemented? What vaccines from Kazakhstan have already passed certification in India?

The proposal was accepted and India and Kazakhstan have agreed to mutually recognise Covid-19 vaccination certificates issued by the respective authorities. This has resulted in unhindered travel between the two countries. It may be pertinent to mention that the year 2023 has seen a record number of over 75000 Indian tourists in Kazakhstan with an increased air-connectivity.


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