ASTANA – President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev delivered his remarks at the first Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) – Central Asian countries summit, outlining top priorities for further cooperation on July 19 in Jeddah, the Akorda press service reported.
The President thanked King of Saudi Arabia, Salman bin Abdulaziz bin Salman Al Saud, and his son, Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud for the meeting that testified to a mutual desire to bring multifaceted cooperation to a qualitatively new level.
Along with intensifying cooperation within Central Asian states and strengthening the region’s global relevance, the President stressed the Central Asia+ dialogue formats expand the multifaceted interaction.
“Synergy of Central Asia’s potential and the enormous opportunities of the Gulf countries can set a higher level to our multifaceted partnership,” he noted.
Commending the dynamic trade between Central Asia and the GCC, the President said that figures have yet to demonstrate the real potential.
- Tokayev emphasized the need to increase the range of goods to boost mutual trade, expressing Kazakhstan’s readiness to step up exports to the Gulf countries in 100 commodities worth about $400 million in the shortest possible time.
Speaking of investment cooperation, the President referred to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) report, which revealed a 40% increase in net investment inflow in Central Asia to $10 billion last year, with Kazakhstan accounting for 60%.
The Gulf countries have invested about $3.6 billion in Kazakhstan’s economy. Tokayev said Kazakhstan is keen to build investment ties, carrying out large-scale reforms to diversify the economy and create favorable conditions for foreign investments.
The President mentioned a business council recently created by Kazakhstan and Saudi Arabia, which is intended to become an important platform for exploiting the trade and investment potential of the two countries.
He assured that Kazakhstan is ready to launch similar cooperation mechanisms with all Gulf member states and invited partners to use advanced tools of the Astana International Financial Centre (AIFC).
Regarding the transport and transit sector, Tokayev highlighted Kazakhstan’s focus on increasing the Trans-Caspian International Transport Route (TITR) capacity.
“We plan to systematically increase the cargo flow through the TITR and bring it to 500,000 containers annually by 2030. Kazakhstan also takes measures to develop the International North-South Transport Corridor,” he said.
Elaborating on energy cooperation, the President revealed that Central Asia has over 30 billion tons of explored oil reserves and over 20 trillion cubic meters of gas.
According to Tokayev, Kazakhstan, as a participant in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC+) agreement, highly appreciates cooperation with the OPEC members and is ready for deeper comprehensive interaction in green energy, particularly with Saudi developer ACWA Power, United Arab Emirates (UAE) Masdar and Qatari companies.
The President noted that Kazakhstan also specializes in upgrading and developing new generating capacities, attracting advanced experience and technologies to geological exploration, and boosting the modern petrochemical industry.
Tokayev recalled his proposal at the recent Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Summit to host an international energy forum in Kazakhstan, inviting oil and gas exporters of the Gulf member states to participate.
As one of the world’s ten largest producers of wheat and flour, Kazakhstan is interested in increasing the volume and range of export supplies of agricultural goods to Arab countries, the President said.
Emphasizing the highly sought-after experience of Arab partners in producing, processing, and certifying organic and halal products, Tokayev proposed cooperating on synchronizing standards, technical regulations, and certification systems.
“We can effectively implement all these tasks using the potential of the Islamic Organization for Food Security (IOFS),” he stressed.
The President expressed his gratitude to the leadership of Qatar for active efforts as the IOFS chair country and to Saudi Arabia for its significant contribution to support its activities.
Aiming to enhance global food security, Tokayev suggested establishing a mechanism for meetings of agriculture ministers to expand cooperation in this area.
Calling tourism one of the fast-growing industries of Central Asia’s economy with its unique tourist resources, the President noted the intention to promote a tourism product in cultural, environmental, sports, health, and business spheres.
Tokayev announced that Kazakhstan has provided visa-free access for all Gulf countries and has established direct air communication with their capitals.
“The initiatives I have outlined affirm Kazakhstan’s commitment to strengthen our cooperation in ensuring mutual sustainable growth and prosperity,” the President concluded.
The first GCC – Central Asian countries summit also included speeches of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Prince and Representative of Bahrain’s King for Humanitarian Work and Youth Affairs Shaikh Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani, Kuwait’s Crown Prince Sheikh Mishal Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, UAE’s Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Oman’s Prince and Deputy Prime Minister Sayyid Asa’ad bin Tariq Al Said, President of the Kyrgyz Republic Sadyr Japarov, Tajikistan’s President Emomali Rahmon, Turkmenistan’s President Serdar Berdymukhamedov, Uzbekistan’s President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, and GCC Secretary General Jasem Mohamed Al Budaiwi.
Following the summit, the participants adopted a joint statement.