Kazakhstan Foreign Minister Erlan Idrissov toured Latin America at the end of September and in early October to promote political and economic ties with perhaps the most distant continent from Astana.
He began his tour on Sept. 29 in Santiago, Chile where he reminded Chilean economic officials of Kazakhstan’s twenty-year partnership with their country and called for increased Chilean investment in Kazakhstan.
At a meeting with Chilean Foreign Investment Committee Executive Vice President Matias Mori, Idrissov briefed Mori on Kazakhstan’s achievements in social, economic and investment policies, according to the press service of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan. Idrissov noted that during its independence, Kazakhstan has become a predictable and reliable partner and called on Mori to increase investment in Kazakhstan’s economy, taking into account Kazakhstan’s transition to a green economy and hosting of EXPO 2017.
In his turn, Mori emphasised Kazakhstan’s impressive development, as well as common interests in cooperation development and expressed his readiness to explore additional cooperation.
Idrissov also met with Chilean Acting Foreign Minister Alfonso Navarro and noted to Navarro the symbolic importance of the first visit by a Kazakhstan Foreign Minister to Chile coming in the year of the 20th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between two countries.
Idrissov also drew his Chilean counterpart’s attention to the Kazakhstan 2050 long-term development strategy, which seeks to place Kazakhstan among the world’s most 30 developed countries. In this regard, Kazakhstan is expanding its international ties and plans to increase its focus on Latin American and African regions, the Kazakh minister explained.
Navarro emphasised Chile’s interest in strengthening its partnership with Kazakhstan, as well as noted the significant potential for cooperation in trade, energy and mining.
“For us, Kazakhstan arouses a special interest among the Central Asian countries. We are ready to expand our ties,” he said at the meeting as quoted by Kazakhstan’s foreign ministry.
Discussions during the talks concerning the facilitation of a visa regime between Chile and Kazakhstan also resulted in an agreement on visa-free requirements for diplomatic and service passports holders. The two sides also agreed to continue negotiations on an agreement to eliminate visa requirements between Kazakhstan and Chilean citizens.
The two ministers also signed an agreement on political consultations between the Kazakhstan and Chilean foreign ministries meant to systematise dialogue between the two countries. Navarro also stressed Chile’s plans to establish its diplomatic mission in Astana.
Besides the official meetings, Minister Idrissov held an informal meeting with President Sebastián Piñera Echenique of Chile, who conveyed an invitation for Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev to visit his country. Idrissov on his part also invited the Chilean President to visit Kazakhstan.
Idrissov then continued his Latin American tour with a visit to Buenos Aires on Oct. 1.
Since Argentina is one of the largest economies in the region and a G20 member, which develops applied science, provides cutting-edge technologies to various economic sectors ranging from nuclear energy to the space industry to energy and agriculture, Kazakhstan has good reasons to be interested in Argentina.
In Buenos Aires, Idrissov discussed with his Argentinian counterpart Hector Timerman areas of cooperation between the two countries, as well as a broad range of global issues. The two sides expressed similar views on development priorities between the two countries and positions on a number of international issues, according to Kazakhstna’s foreign ministry. The two diplomats also agreed to boost bilateral cooperation and signed an agreement on the launch of bilateral political consultations and on the bilateral repeal of visa requirements for official delegations. Timerman also said he plans to visit Astana in 2014 at the invitation of the Kazakhstan Foreign Minister.
Idrissov also agreed with his Argentinean colleague to immediately begin drafting an agreement to repeal visa requirements between Kazakhstan and Argentina during Timerman’s visit to Astana next year. Such an agreement would allow Kazakhstan citizens to travel to Argentina without visas.
At a meeting with executives of the YPF National Oil Company, Idrissov discussed technology exchange related to natural gas processing, as well as cooperation in the oil and gas sectors between the two countries.
As Kazakhstan and Argentina are large meat producers, Idrissov also met with the Argentine Association of Beef Producers to discuss potential areas of cooperation. Argentina is a global leader in beef production and its agriculture research organisations are ready to share their up-to-date scientific developments with Kazakhstan, according to Kazakhstan’s foreign ministry.
Idrissov also visited the Argentinian Parliament where he met Argentinian Senate Speaker and Vice President Amado Boudu Argentinian and Chamber of Deputies President Julian Dominguez. During the meeting, the various officials called for increased contact between the two countries’ parliaments and extended invitations to each other’s countries.
The Kazakh foreign minister completed his Latin American tour on Oct. 3 in Brazil where he traveled to São Paulo to attend the first Kazakhstan business forum held in Brazil.
He also met his Brazilian counterpart Luiz Alberto Figueiredo to discuss areas of cooperation and global issues. Figueiredo noted the significance of the first ever official visit of a Kazakh foreign minister to Brazil coming in the year of the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the diplomatic relations between the two countries.
The Kazakhstan – Brazil partnership has a solid history. The visit of the Kazakhstan President to Brazil in 2007 was a breakthrough in bilateral relationships, which launched a partnership between the two leaders. And Brazilian President Lula da Silva’s return visit to Kazakhstan in 2009 gave a new impetus to the relationship. Brazil, as the largest economy in its region and a member of both G20 and BRICS, has become a significant global player in recent years. Kazakhstan is interested in cooperation with Brazil in fields such as agriculture, machinery, high technologies, alternative energy sources, as well as civil aviation. Kazakhstan’s Air Astana has purchased the Brazilian-produced Embraer jets, which have few competitors among medium-haul jet aircraft with a capacity of up to 110 passengers.
As a result of a meeting in Itamaraty, headquarters of the Brazilian foreign ministry in Brasilia, Idrissov and Figueiredo signed a number of documents, such as a memorandum on bilateral political, economic, trade and investment dialogue, a memorandum on cooperation in the field of sports, and adopted a joint statement reflects the countries’ bilateral agenda and positions on global issues.
Idrissov also addressed students at the Rio Branco Diplomatic Academy in Brasilia, which is one of the region’s leading educational institutions and is run by the Brazilian Foreign ministry. Students from different parts of the world, including Europe, Asia and Africa, study there. Idrissov and Figueiredo also agreed to launch a partnership between the Rio Branco Institute and the Academy of Public Administration under the President of Kazakhstan where there is a School of Diplomacy.
Idrissov’s visit to Brasilia ended with the opening ceremony of Kazakhstan’s embassy, which was attended by the Brazilian Foreign Minister, representatives of the socio-political establishment, business circles and diplomatic corps.
During the event, Idrissov and Figueiredo signed an agreement on visa-free requirements for citizens of the two countries. The ministers noted that, when in force, the agreement will allow citizens of both countries to visit each other countries without visas. Both ministers expressed hope that residents of Kazakhstan and Brazil will use this unique opportunity to expand ties between the countries’ academic, cultural and business communities. Idrissov also said the Kazakh foreign ministry plans to complete the processes necessary by early 2014 to allow Kazakhstan tourists and football fans to more easily visit Brazil during the World Cup next summer.
In São Paulo, Idrissov also attended a business forum carried out by the National Agency for Export and Investment KAZNEX INVEST, under the support of Brazil’s largest industrialist association FIESP. Both Kazakhstan and Brazilian business circles are interested in mutual cooperation and mutual development of the Customs Union market. Brazilian businessmen were briefed on opportunities and conditions for successful investment in Kazakhstan.
Idrissov’s Latin America tour has opened a new chapter in Kazakhstan’s relations with some of the leading countries on that continent and has shown Astana’s intentions to intensify its international outreach efforts.