First Kazakh-Belgian Business Council Ventures Into Collaboration Opportunities in New Areas

ASTANA – Astana hosted the first meeting of the Kazakh-Belgian business council on
June 5, which brought together the businesses and diplomatic missions of the two countries and saw the signing of a memorandum of understanding in the pharmaceutical sector. 

The stage is set for the Kazakhstan – Belgium Business Council. Photo credit: Astana Times.

The SK-Pharmacy company, the country’s sole pharmaceutical distributor, signed the memorandum of understanding with the BeNeLux Chamber of Commerce.

Belgian Ambassador Henri Vantieghem talks about opportunities in Kazakhstan being in the middle of Central Asia. Photo credit: Astana Times.

The business council aims to expand economic ties between countries and build a network between Kazakh and Belgian enterprises. The event was held as part of the Economic Mission to Central Asia, organized by the Wallonia Export-Investment Agency (AWEX) and Flanders Investment & Trade (FIT).

Kazakh Ambassador to Belgium Margulan Baimukhan opened the business council, reminding that its establishment was suggested by President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev in November 2021.

Henri Vantieghem, Belgian Ambassador to Kazakhstan, drew parallels between the countries.

“Belgium is the center of the European Union, while Kazakhstan is the center of Central Asia,” he said. 

He also expressed an interest in the Middle Corridor in terms of logistics and called Kazakhstan a “free and promising country for doing business.”

Ayan Yerenov, chairman of the board of the Kazakh International Chamber of Commerce, spoke about the work of the chamber.

Kazakh Ambassador to Belgium Margulan Baimukhan launches the event. Photo credit: Astana Times.

“We try to foster cooperation between our countries,” he said. According to him, European businesses have huge opportunities in Kazakhstan due to its political stability, transparent taxation, and logistics system. 

Denis Van den Weghe, president of the BeNeLux Chamber of Commerce, said the council had become an important milestone in the countries’ relations.

“Over the last three years, Belgium has been the major trade partner for Kazakhstan within the European Union. Compared to 2021 we observe a significant trade turnover increase of 23%. Kazakhstan exports to Belgium were valued at $272 million, while imports from Belgium reached $242 million,” he said.  

Henri Vantieghem (Belgian Ambassador), Denis Van den Weghe (President of the BeNeLux Chamber of Commerce), Yerkhat Iskaliev (Chairman of the Board of SK-Pharmacy) and Margulan Baimukhan (Kazakh Ambassador). Photo credit: Astana Times.

He added that Belgian enterprises operate in different sectors in Kazakhstan, including mining, transportation, and logistics contributing to the country’s economic growth and development.

“We must facilitate the exchange of information and expertise, and identify business opportunities. Belgium has expertise in different industries,” he added.

He indicated pharmaceuticals, telecommunications, renewable energy, machinery, agro-processing, and food security as the sectors with significant potential for cooperation. He considers Kazakhstan as an ideal hub for logistics and transportation.

Representatives of the Kazakh quasi-public organizations such as Bayterek Holding, Samruk Kazyna Invest, Kazakh Invest, and the Astana International Financial Center (AIFC) talked about the investment opportunities in Kazakhstan at the event. 

Belgian companies operating in Kazakhstan, such as Puratos, OTN Systems, IBA (Ion Beam Applications S.A.), and Janssen, also presented their companies and emphasized the attractiveness of the Kazakh market.

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