ASTANA – Kazakh Deputy Foreign Minister Almas Aidarov and British Minister for Investment Lord Dominic Johnson pledged to strengthen bilateral cooperation in trade, investment, pharmaceuticals, energy, and education during the ninth meeting of the Kazakh-British Intergovernmental Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientific, Technical, and Cultural Cooperation (IGC) on Feb. 7 in London, reported the Kazakh Foreign Ministry’s press service.
During the meeting, Almas Aidarov and Lord Dominic Johnson noted the dynamic and progressive development of Kazakh-British relations and confirmed the intention of both parties to broaden and strengthen their partnership by increasing trade, economic, technological, and investment cooperation in priority sectors.
“The current turbulent geopolitical and geo-economic situation, the UK’s separation from the European Union, and other reasons naturally make Astana and London move closer together. We are also on the verge of signing a strategic partnership and cooperation agreement that will take our relations to a new level,” said Aidarov in a comment for this story.
During the commission session, the Kazakh side also raised the issue of cooperation in renewable energy sources, critical raw materials, and rare earth metals.
“The development of large-scale and mutually beneficial cooperation with the UK is one of our main priorities,” added Aidarov. In March 2023, a visit by British Foreign Secretary James Cleverley and several other high-ranking officials is expected.
As part of the meeting, the Kazakh Ministry of Health and the British-Swedish biopharmaceutical company AstraZeneca inked a memorandum on long-term pharmaceutical and healthcare cooperation. The company intends to localize production in Kazakhstan.
While in London, in addition to leaders of AstraZeneca, Aidarov also met with executives of British companies such as East Star Resources and United Concrete Canvas, where cooperation in the pharmaceutical industry, geological exploration, and construction sphere was discussed in detail.
British investments in the Kazakh economy reached US$20 billion, increasing by 36 percent in 2020 and 20 percent in 2021. British direct investment in the first nine months of 2022 reached $529 million.
The bilateral trade in 2022 increased by 58.7 percent, reaching $1.8 billion. Kazakhstan’s exports increased by 71 percent to $1.5 billion, and imports increased by 24.4 percent to $384.3 million.
Nearly 600 British companies in oil, gas, mining, agriculture, infrastructure, education, financial and professional services, and high-tech spheres operate in Kazakhstan. Major British companies, such as Royal Dutch Shell and Ernst & Young, are members of the Foreign Investors Council, which operates under the office of the President of Kazakhstan.