Investments, trade and joint projects: How the strategic partnership between Kazakhstan and South Korea is developing

Collage credit: Kazinform

President of the Republic of Korea Yoon Suk Yeol will pay a state visit to Kazakhstan on June 11-12. Diplomatic relations between the two nations were established on January 28, 1992. Astana and Seoul are successfully developing in various sectors of the economy, especially in the field of foreign investment and trade. Read the review of the Kazinform News Agency correspondent to see how the long-term partnership between Kazakhstan and South Korea is developing.

Development of international relations

In September 2023, Head of State Kassym-Jomart Tokayev held talks with the President of the Republic of Korea, Yoon Suk Yeol, during his working trip to New York. The topic of discussion was the prospects for the further development of the Kazakh-Korean strategic partnership.

Tokayev noted that friendly relations have developed between Kazakhstan and South Korea, in which the dynamic development of economic ties is of particular importance. The Head of State then outlined promising areas of economic cooperation in the field of mining rare earth metals and the development of nuclear energy.

Yoon Suk Yeol and Kassym-Jomart Tokayev
Photo credit: Akorda

Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol noted that his country is interested in further deepening mutually beneficial cooperation with Kazakhstan. According to him, Korean companies express special interest in expanding existing and implementing new projects in mechanical engineering, mining and nuclear energy.

Trade and Investment

South Korea is consistently among the top 10 largest investors in the economy of Kazakhstan. The country ranks sixth in terms of investment in the economy of Kazakhstan. Thus, over the past 18 years, about $9.2 billion has been invested in Kazakhstan. At the same time, in 2023, the gross inflow of direct investment from Korea reached $1.2 billion.

Main importing countries of Kazakhstan Infographics: Kazinform

However, trade between Kazakhstan and South Korea showed a significant decline in the first four months of 2024. Trade turnover amounted to 1.4 billion US dollars, which is 44% less than the same period last year (2.4 billion US dollars). Including exports from Kazakhstan to South Korea - $735.8 million.

Trade turnover between Kazakhstan and South Korea Infographics: Kazinform

The main goods of Kazakhstan's exports: oil, ferroalloys, titanium, uranium, rolled unalloyed steel, iron, gold. Goods imported from Korea: wires and cables, distribution boards, consoles, metal products and tools, vehicle bodies, cars and more.

Export and import main goods Inforgraphic: Kazinform

Joint projects

According to the press service of the Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan, currently 5 projects worth $1.5 billion are at the implementation stage and another 25 promising projects worth about $500 million are being developed. As a striking example, we can note the construction of a new large KIA plant in the city of Kostanay with the amount of investments at $190 million and a production capacity of 70 thousand vehicles per year.

Earlier, KazISS director Yerkin Tukumov reported that 58 joint investment projects were implemented between Kazakhstan and South Korea totaling $4.5 billion. These figures indicate that cooperation between the two countries has enormous potential for development.

In addition, South Korea is ready to offer Kazakhstan its assistance in the construction of a nuclear power plant. According to the representative of the “Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power” (KHNP) Changhong Song, in case of a positive decision, the nuclear power plants will be built by “Doosan Group” and “Hyundai Engineering & Construction”, and management functions will be performed by KHNP.

It is worth noting that energy minister Almasadam Satkaliev recently stated that Korea, Russia, China and France have passed pre-qualification for the construction of nuclear power plants.

Green economy and ecology

Both countries cooperate within the framework of international organizations such as the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI), Asian Forestry Cooperation Organization (AFoCO), Green Climate Fund (GCF) and others.

The Asian organization for cooperation in the forestry sector AFoCO intends to help Kazakhstan in restoring forests and preventing fires.

“Over 50-60 years in Korea, in order to restore forests, 11 billion trees were planted and 2.5 million hectares of land were restored. In this regard, we invited the Korean side to use their rich experience with us. “We discussed the issues of conducting training in order to convey to us the possibility of using their technologies or other opportunities that are important to us or inviting our citizens to undergo internship,” says the chairman of the Majilis Committee of the Parliament of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Edil Zhanbyrshin.

Work migration

Illegal labor migration of Kazakhstani citizens to South Korea has become one of the most pressing issues on the agenda between the two countries.

In January 2024, the Ministry of labor and social protection of the population of the Republic of Kazakhstan and the Ministry of labor of Korea held negotiations on the inclusion of Kazakhstan in the South Korean Employment Permit System (EPS). The mutual agreement will allow Kazakhstanis to legally find employment in South Korea, and will also allow for more effective cooperation, including identifying, preventing and responding to cases of violation of the labor and social rights of Kazakhstanis in South Korea.

It is known that Kazakhstanis who want to go to South Korea for legal work will undergo pre-training. For this purpose, a special Korean center is being prepared in the city of Konayev. The center will be created on the basis of the Multidisciplinary College - this is where training according to the EPS system will be conducted.

Flight routes

In February 2024, the Civil Aviation Committee announced that Kazakhstan and South Korea would increase the number of flights between the countries and open new air routes. Moreover, from June 15, air traffic between Astana and Seoul will be resumed, and it is also planned to increase flights on the Almaty-Seoul route.

Strengthening friendship

Spring festival
Photo credit: Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan

In May, the spring festival of Central Asian countries was held in South Korea, organized by the secretariat of the Central Asia – Republic of Korea Cooperation Forum. At the opening ceremony, executive director of the secretariat Lee Jong Guk emphasized the importance of further strengthening friendship between the Central Asian countries and Korea. The main event of the event was the impressive performance of the Kazakh chamber choir of the Aktobe regional philharmonic named after Gaziza Zhubanova.

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