Kazakh, British FMs Expand Cooperation in London Meeting

Kazakh Foreign Minister Kairat Abdrakhmanov and British Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Boris Johnson agreed during a Nov. 20 meeting in London to broaden cooperation on the trans-Eurasian transport corridors and reviving the Silk Road corridor.

They also discussed global issues, the Kazakh foreign ministry announced, including Kazakhstan’s priorities for its UN Security Council in January 2018, the Astana Process on Syria, Afghanistan, implementing the Minsk agreements on Ukraine, countering terrorism, non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and cooperation in Central Asia, among other issues.

“Kazakhstan will be the first Central Asian nation to chair the UNSC. Looking forward to further cooperation on global security,” Johnson tweeted following the meeting.

The discussions were part of the Kazakh-British Strategic Dialogue at the British Foreign Office. The bilateral agenda for the upcoming months also includes meetings of the Kazakh-British Intergovernmental Commission, the Business Council and other events involving the Samruk Kazyna National Wealth Fund, the Astana International Financial Centre (AIFC) and the Kazakh Invest national company.

Abdrakhmanov and Johnson also touched on meetings between Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev and British Prime Minister Theresa May, including at the G20 summit in China in 2016 and Nazarbayev’s November 2015 London visit which produced agreements worth $12 billion.

“Kazakhstan will continue strengthening its strategic partnership with Great Britain in order to modernise the economy and increase investment and trade exchange based on the agreements at the highest level,” Abdrakhmanov said, adding the United Kingdom plays an important role in Kazakhstan’s economic development.

Britain is a major Kazakh trading partner and one of the six largest investors in the Kazakh economy with more than $12 billion invested. Bilateral trade in 2016 was $1.2 billion and more than $1 billion in the first nine months of this year.

Kazakhstan is also using Britain’s experience in creating AIFC and thousands of Kazakh students, including Bolashak presidential scholarship holders, study in Britain.

Johnson also noted Kazakhstan’s importance to the UK and Britain’s intention to deepen cooperation.

Abdrakhmanov’s meeting with Johnson was part of his two-day visit to Britain during which the Kazakh Foreign Minister also met with the leadership of Metalysis company, which is implementing a high-tech project in Kazakhstan, and TheCityUK, which is cooperating with the AIFC.

In addition, Abdrakhmanov attended the annual meeting of the Eurasian Council on Foreign Affairs (ECFA) Advisory Council. The council is an independent think tank founded in 2014 to study Central Asian states’ development and relations with European countries.

“Kazakhstan is working hard to improve the investment climate further and is interested in expanding investment cooperation with European companies, including British ones,” said Abdrakhmanov.

He stressed Kazakhstan ranked 36th in the 2017 World Bank’s Doing Business report, while the European Union is Kazakhstan’s largest trade and economic partner and investor, which on average accounts for up to 50 percent of trade and investment into the Kazakh economy.

The annual meeting of the ECFA Advisory Council discussed the conceptual approaches to developing relations between Kazakhstan and other Central Asian countries with Europe and cooperation in transport, logistics, energy and financial technology. Participants stressed Kazakhstan’s geo-economic location in the heart of Eurasia, its efforts to develop transit and role in implementing the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

The following day Abdrakhmanov spoke at length at a special event at Chatham House about Kazakh foreign policy priorities as well as met with members of the British-Kazakhstan All-Party Parliamentary Group.

At a meeting with business leaders and members of the British-Kazakh Society the Foreign Minister discussed concrete measures needed to spur deepening of business-to-business ties between the two countries.