Kazakhstan is willing to diversify and expand cooperation with the United States, said President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev during the Kazakh American investment roundtable in New York on September 19. The visit included meetings with top management of some of the biggest American companies, and international financial institutions and the participation in the General Debates of the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly. More about the visit and where the bilateral ties between Kazakhstan and the United States stand are in the latest article of Kazinform.
«My team has a great track record in helping you attract investment that makes it easier for your companies to do business in one of the fastest-growing economies in the region. I hope that today's meeting will serve as a practical step in promoting trade and economic and investment cooperation, as well as further strengthening the strategic partnership between Kazakhstan and the US,« Tokayev told the roundtable.
Trade and investments
The US, in fact, is among the top three foreign investors in Kazakhstan, investing nearly $48.8 billion since 2005, which accounts for 13.5 percent of all foreign investments attracted in the country, according to the Kazakh Ministry of National Economy.
American investments in the mining sector account for 30 percent of all FDI in Kazakhstan's mining sector. The US also invests in the country’s financial and insurance activities (share of 6.6 percent) and exploration (9.8 percent).
As of January 1, 2022, 695 enterprises with American capital were registered in the country, including 658 small, 15 medium-sized, and 22 large enterprises.
«168 Kazakh-American enterprises are concentrated in wholesale and retail trade, 181 in other services, and 83 in professional, scientific, and technical activities. « There are only 36 U.S. companies in the manufacturing industry,» reads the Kazakh Ministry of National Economy statement.
Between January and July this year, the trade turnover between Kazakhstan and US reached US$1.5 billion, 36.6 percent more than in the same period last year.
During his meetings with top executives of leading American companies, the focus on cooperation in energy, agriculture, IT, and areas with high-added values was evident. These are the areas needed for Kazakhstan to diversify its economy, which for years has significantly relied on its abundant hydrocarbon reserves.
According to Bekzhan Sadykov, a chief research fellow at the Kazakh Institute of Strategic Studies, Tokayev's visit to the US is important as it offered a chance to intensify trade and economic relations.
«Today our country is on the threshold of change and plays a key role in the region. First, economic cooperation will unlock the potential of industries in which Kazakhstan has advantages. Several meetings have been held with representatives of businesses present on a global level. Approaches of these companies will allow us to orient the economic community of our country to find answers to global challenges,» said the expert.
The IT sector is another area where Kazakhstan can benefit from U.S. expertise. Kazakhstan is also continuing its effort to develop IT in the country and is committed to training 100,000 IT specialists and increasing IT exports to US$500 million by 2025.
«Kazakhstan is interested in the experience of a leading technological country to form innovative areas of the economy based on technology. Today it is important to comply with technological trends that increasingly form the basis for new sectors of the economy,» said Sadykov.
Addressing the roundtable, Tokayev spoke about the economic potential of Kazakhstan, the largest economy in Central Asia, and the measures to improve investment attractiveness. He also reported on the opportunities for implementing joint investment projects in digitalization, finance, renewable energy, and agricultural, industrial, transport, and logistics industries.
Overall, U.S. investors can help implement projects worth 320 billion tenge (US$667.7 million). The plan is to implement 8 projects with U.S. investors in Karaganda, Akmola, North Kazakhstan, Aktobe, East Kazakhstan regions, and Almaty city in 2022-2027.
The General Debates of the UN General Assembly
On Sept. 20, President Tokayev addressed the General Debates of the UN General Assembly, the central event of his visit to New York. The 77th session kicked off on September 13 focusing on the theme – «A watershed moment: transformative solutions to interlocking challenges.»
Opening the General Debates, the UN General Assembly President Csaba Kőrösi called for «solutions through solidarity, sustainability and science.»
«The challenges are great. And they are interconnected. But they are not insurmountable,» said Kőrösi. He also announced his intention to advance negotiations for reforming the UN Security Council to «more equitably represent 21st-century realities.»
«This is a matter of credibility for our entire Organization and our multilateral order,» he added.
In his remarks, President Tokayev said the meeting at the UN headquarters is taking place at «a critical time for humanity» when the world appears to have entered a new, as he described «increasingly bitter,» period of growing geopolitical confrontation.
«The long-standing international system - based on order and responsibility is giving way to a new, more chaotic, and unpredictable one. The global system of checks and balances has failed to maintain peace and stability. The security architecture is eroding. Mutual distrust between global powers is dangerously deepening. The world is falling prey to a new set of military conflicts. For the first time in two generations, we face the prospect of the use of nuclear weapons, and not even as a last resort,» said the President.
Expressing concern about growing artificial barriers and economic isolation, he said economic and political sanctions have become a «new normal,» eroding the supply chains that ensure food security, threatening millions, especially in vulnerable communities.
He urged the world community to «rethink the linkages between three primordial principles: the sovereign equality of states, the territorial integrity of states, and peaceful coexistence between states.»
«These three principles are interdependent. To respect one is to respect the other two. To undermine one is to undermine the other two. When the global disarmament regime – both conventional and nuclear – weakens, these three principles are threatened. Conversely, as these three principles are respected, they grow in strength. Together they become the basis for greater inter-state cooperation at every level: sub-regional, regional, and global. This is the global prosperity dividend,» said Tokayev.
He reaffirmed Kazakhstan’s will to work together for a common cause and in a «spirit of inclusiveness, multilateralism, and goodwill.»
Tokayev expressed support for Our Common Agenda, a report launched on September 10, 2021, which looks ahead to the next 25 years and represents the UN Secretary-General’s vision for the future of global cooperation, calling for inclusive, networked, and effective multilateralism to better respond to humanity’s most pressing challenges.
The approach to global challenges must be changed, he noted – instead of responding to crises, the world needs to be proactive to prevent them in the first place. He brought the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) as an example of how this could be done.
Thirty years ago, in October 1992 at the 47th Session of the UN GA, Kazakhstan’s First President Nursultan Nazarbayev proposed the idea to convene a regional organization to ensure peace, security, and stability in Asia, exactly from the same rostrum where Tokayev was delivering his address. The CICA initiative was born on this day and 30 years later, according to Tokayev, the nation hopes to transform CICA into a full-fledged international organization at the upcoming summit in October in Astana to contribute to global mediation and peace-making.
Tokayev spoke in detail about Central Asia, what he called a «region of vast opportunities for international cooperation.»
«We intend to work together with all stakeholders to address a pressing regional agenda that includes climate change, the Aral Sea, rational use of water resources, border delimitation, combating extremism, and expanding intra-regional trade,» said Tokayev.
The issues Tokayev raised at the UN echo what he wrote in his article published on September 20 in Politico, an influential American magazine. In his article, Tokayev reiterated Kazakhstan would not opt for isolation or turn inward, «even in the face of major international pressures, which have created difficulties in our country — and others.»
«Instead, we are doubling down on the liberal, international, open policies that have driven such a dramatic increase in standards of living around the world. My country is at a crossroads. If we fail to answer the critical questions that face us at this juncture, we risk falling into the ‘middle-income trap’ and, in the process, disappointing an entire generation of optimistic, energetic, and ambitious young citizens,» he wrote.
As President Tokayev completes his working visit to New York, it is just a matter of time whether he would fulfill his promises of a New and Fair Kazakhstan.