ASTANA – Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has arrived in Rome Jan. 17 to begin his official visits to Italy and the Vatican on Jan. 18-19, reported the Akorda press service.
On Jan. 18, Tokayev is expected to hold talks with Italian President Sergio Mattarella and Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni.
The President will also take part in the Kazakh-Italian investment roundtable and will hold meetings with the top management of major Italian companies.
On Jan. 19, Tokayev will have an audience with Pope Francis in the Vatican.
The Kazakh President will also visit the headquarters of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the UN and the UN World Food Program (WFP) to meet with the leaders of these two organizations.
Italy is Kazakhstan’s main trading partner in Europe and is one of the top three largest in terms of trade turnover after China and Russia. In 2022, bilateral trade reached $14.9 billion, marking a 54% increase compared to the previous year. In 2023, the positive trend continued, albeit on at a slower pace, with trade reaching $14.5 billion in the first 11 months of the year. The key areas of cooperation include energy, natural resources exploration and production, construction, infrastructure, transportation, communication, agriculture, science and technology.
Italy is also among major investors in the Kazakh economy, with an investment of $7.3 billion from 2005 to the first half of 2023.
Around 300 Italian companies, joint ventures and representative offices operate in the country, covering various sectors of the economy.
Aigul Kuspan, the Chair of the Committee for International Affairs, Defense and Security of the Mazhilis, the lower chamber of the Kazakh Parliament, highlighted the growth in the number of Kazakh students in Italy thanks to the Bolashak international scholarship program.
“Traditionally, Bolashak scholarship recipients have traveled to Italy for studies in opera and other artistic disciplines. Moreover, there is an Italian grant program based on a competitive process, and it is encouraging that Kazakh applicants are often victorius. Today, nearly 2,000 Kazakh students are studying in Italy,” she said in comments to Khabar24 TV channel.
The two countries reached an agreement last year to open a branch of the University of Genoa at Amanzholov University in Ust-Kamenogorsk, in the east of Kazakhstan.