Kazakhstan, EU on track to enhance and expand trade and economic coop

ASTANA. KAZINFORM - Unleashing the full potential of cooperation between Kazakhstan and the European Union and member states requires special attention to be paid by the Kazakh Foreign Ministry and European diplomatic missions accredited in Kazakhstan, Minister of Foreign Affairs Beibut Atamkulov told today's meeting with the EU ambassadors in Astana, Kazinform cites the ministry's press service.

The meeting considered a wide range of issues of Kazakhstan-EU cooperation, including the prospects for the intensification of political, trade and economic partnership.

The head of the foreign ministry highlighted that Kazakhstan appreciates the existing friendly relations with the European Union, which are marked by an active and regular political dialogue. In addition, the sides positively noted the results of fruitful cooperation in 2018, in particular, the participation of President Nursultan Nazarbayev in the 12th ASEM (Asia-Europe Meeting) Summit in Brussels in October 2018 when he met with President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker and EU leaders.

The sides paid key attention to the effective implementation of the Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement, which is expected to come into full force in the near future. The attendees agreed that the Agreement will open up new horizons for interaction in the 29 areas of cooperation covered by it.

In the context of the accomplishment of the investment attraction and export promotion tasks the Foreign Ministry of Kazakhstan is entrusted with, the main issue on the table was the further expansion and the diversification of trade and economic ties. It was stated that the European Union has been the largest trade and investment partner of Kazakhstan over the course of many years. For 11 months of 2018, the trade reached $34.4 billion (49% of the total), while foreign direct investment in Kazakhstan's economy totaled $12.3 billion in the first half of 2018. In addition to the above, 24 large-scale investment projects worth about $3 billion with the participation of European companies are being implemented in Kazakhstan.

The Minister underlined that Kazakhstan prioritizes the comprehensive diversification of the range of products exported abroad, the search for new markets, the establishment of joint ventures producing and exporting high-tech goods, as well as the exports of high-quality and sought-after services. "Presently, Kazakhstan aims to join the 30 most developed countries in the world. To that end, comprehensive measures are being taken to modernize the country's economy, where investment and exports are its integral part," said Beibut Atamkulov.

In view of the close correlation between the rise in business contacts and the mobility of citizens, it was noted that early solution to the issue of easing the EU visa regime for citizens of Kazakhstan could significantly boost the development of comprehensive cooperation. In this regard, the head of Kazakhstan's Foreign Ministry called on the European side to support efforts for the promotion of the start of negotiations to ease the visa regime with the country.

The sides also discussed the process of updating the EU Strategy for Central Asia. It was noted that positive trends in the development of dialogue in the Central Asian region open up new prospects for interaction between the EU and Central Asia. "Kazakhstan is ready to actively promote the implementation of a new strategy, which will become an effective and multifunctional basis for even deeper cooperation, and will also facilitate the further enhancement of partnership within the region," he said.

In addition, the sides exchanged views on topical international and regional issues, in particular, on the prospects of EAEU-EU relations, regional cooperation in Central Asia, interaction in the light of China's Belt and Road Initiative, and other aspects of the international agenda.

As a result of the meeting, the attendees agreed to hold regular meetings in this format and maintain close working contacts. At the same time, it was underlined that the Kazakh side is open to dialogue, exchange of new ideas and proposals for the further scaling up of Kazakhstan-EU cooperation.

It should be mentioned that 22 embassies of the EU member states, as well as the EU Delegation, are operating in Kazakhstan.

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