China, Kazakhstan Sign $23.6 Billion in Agreements, Including Funds for Nurly Zhol Projects

ASTANA – Thirty-three cooperation agreements worth $23.6 billion were signed during the working visit of Kazakh Prime Minister Karim Massimov to China on March 27, Xinhua News reported – some of which will support projects that fall under the umbrella of Kazakhstan’s new Nurly Zhol economic stimulus programme.

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Kazakh Prime Minister Karim Massimov and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang at the Great Hall of the People, Beijing.

“During the talks in Beijing both heads of government noted striking similarities and the remarkable potential for complementarity between the Chinese Silk Road Economic Belt strategy and Kazakhstan’s Nurly Zhol programme,” Astana-based political scientist and China expert Tatyana Kaukenova told The Astana Times on March 28. “This means that apart from the National Fund’s money, the Kazakh government may count on Chinese investments to implement some of the Nurly Zhol projects, especially in those regions where China is interested in upgrading local infrastructure.”

The agreements concluded in Beijing include deals in urban transport development, mining, biochemical industries, energy and the auto industry, plus agreements to develop cooperation in customs and border management, new technology, culture and more. A Chinese company and a Spanish partner have agreed to build a wind farm in Kazakhstan, which is exploring alternative energy sources as part of the government’s planned transition to a green economy.

The China Development Bank has also agreed to fund energy, mining and finance projects in the country. Kaukenova noted that China is now a bigger provider of loans to Kazakhstan than is Russia.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Massimov presided over the signing of the accords in Beijing.

During the signing, Li stressed the need to develop innovative projects together and to work to coordinate policy in the two countries, according to Xinhua News. He also called for increased cooperation in nuclear energy, agriculture and the rail transit sector.

While in Beijing, Massimov also met Chinese President Xi Jinping, who emphasised the important stage of development between the two countries and the need to promote bilateral contacts. “China and Kazakhstan are in a crucial moment of development,” Xi said, according to Fox News Latino. Xi also commented on the revival of the Silk Road connecting China and Kazakhstan, part of the Silk Road Economic Belt strategy he announced in a speech at Nazarbayev University in 2013.

Kazakhstan is becoming a significant energy partner for China, and Kazakhstan has a strong interest in developing its potential as a transit route for Chinese goods to Europe.

“The growing importance of economic cooperation between the two countries cannot be ignored or underestimated. Kazakhstan already is a leader in the Commonwealth of Independent States regarding volumes of Chinese investment,” Kaukenova said.

Massimov also attended the annual Boao Forum for Asia conference in south China’s Hainan Province on this visit.

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