ASTANA – Given the vast geographical coverage of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), the development of infrastructure connectivity remains one of the core priorities, Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev said at a plenary session of the second Eurasian Economic Forum on May 24 in Moscow, reported the Akorda press service.
Speaking about the EAEU integration development strategy through 2025, Tokayev emphasized the work carried out within the union on transport and communications and transportation and logistics with third countries.
“Considering the rather rapidly changing picture of global commodity flows, it is now essential to monitor and, if possible, create trends throughout the region,” Tokayev told the forum, themed Eurasian Integration in a Multipolar World.
He mentioned China’s Belt and Road Initiative as one of the most large-scale projects to build continental strategic connectivity.
The President underscored the importance of developing the North-South Transport Corridor as a critical element of the “new global logistics,” consistent with the latitudinal Trans-Caspian International Transport Route (TITR).
A significant synergy of both routes is not only a growth point for the industry, transport and the economy, Tokayev said. These routes can also fundamentally change the level of interaction and cooperation within Eurasia.
The President highlighted the need to build effective interaction with China, the EAEU’s key political and economic partner. With the construction of Kazakhstan’s logistics center in the Xian’s dry port launched during the recent state visit to China, Tokayev anticipates this port to become the main hub for sending direct container trains to Central Asia, Europe, Iran and Türkiye.
The President spoke about the plans to launch a railway connection on the Bakhty-Ayagoz section and build a separate border crossing to China.
“Here we hope for fruitful cooperation with Russia, as the project significantly reduces the distance and delivery time of goods to China not only from Kazakhstan but also from Western Siberia,” Tokayev said.
Apart from physical infrastructure, Tokayev noted the need to focus on soft infrastructure, particularly digitalization, simplifying customs administration, and reducing the administrative burden.
“We are forming a new transport network for Eurasia, which has never existed before,” the President said.
Tokayev called the collaboration with China, Egypt, India, Iran, Israel, Serbia, Vietnam, and other partners an essential indicator of the EAEU’s maturity and its trade and economic attractiveness on its way to increasing recognition and influence in the international community.
“Since last year, we have started negotiating free trade agreements with Indonesia and the United Arab Emirates. I consider these areas fundamentally important. Therefore, I expect prompt and responsible work from the Eurasian Commission,” the President said.
Tokayev reiterated Kazakhstan’s commitment to implementing four freedoms of the Eurasian integration and basic principles such as non-discriminatory access to infrastructure, fair competition, equality, and consideration of national interests.
According to Tokayev, addressing the primary tasks of cooperation within the EAEU should be a priority before setting more ambitious goals.
“The main benchmark of successful economic integration is not the number of strategies, contracts, and paper solutions, but new productions, technologies and jobs,” the President said.
Tokayev stressed that Kazakhstan is ready to develop social, cultural and humanitarian cooperation with its closest partners within the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), and in a bilateral format.
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko, President of the Kyrgyz Republic Sadyr Japarov, Armenia’s Deputy Prime Minister Mher Grigoryan, and Chairman of the Eurasian Economic Commission Mikhail Myasnikovich also spoke at the forum. China’s President Xi Jinping delivered a video address.