Kazakh PM Outlines Key Areas for EAEU Cooperation at Eurasian Intergovernmental Council

ASTANA – Kazakh Prime Minister Alikhan Smailov took part in the Eurasian Intergovernmental Council’s meeting chaired by Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan in Almaty on Feb. 2, reported the Prime Minister’s press service.

From L to R: Bakytzhan Sagintayev, Nikol Pashinyan, Roman Golovchenko, Alikhan Smailov, Mikhail Mishustin and Adylbek Kasymaliev. Photo credit: primeminister.kz.

The event was also attended by Prime Minister of Belarus Roman Golovchenko, Chairman of the Russian government Mikhail Mishustin, First Deputy Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers of Kyrgyzstan Adylbek Kasymaliev and Chairman of the Eurasian Economic Commission Bakytzhan Sagintayev.

Addressing the meeting participants, Smailov focused on the key areas of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) interaction, noting that mutual trade between EAEU member states doubled from 2015 to 2022 and reached $85 billion.

“The EAEU is located at the crossroads of East and West, North and South, which has always been a competitive advantage of our region. Kazakhstan attaches special importance to the development of transit and transport infrastructure. It is important to increase the capacity of international corridors, logistics terminals and checkpoints of member states,” he said, encouraging his counterparts to implement joint projects to develop transit and transport infrastructure.

Developing industrial cooperation was another important area for the council’s work.  To strengthen cooperation in the EAEU in this direction, a mechanism for financial assistance for joint projects will be launched this year. It is supposed to facilitate the implementation of strategic projects, promote business initiatives, significantly increase mutual investments, and create new jobs.

“The implementation of large industrial cooperation projects will ensure the development of the technological potential of the member states,” he said. 

Smailov also underlined the need to form a common barrier-free market and ensure unimpeded transit of goods to third countries.

“Free movement of goods remains relevant for us. (…) This should be facilitated by the digitalization of all main processes. I am convinced that the ongoing Digital Almaty forum will help resolve these issues,” he said. 

Finally, Smailov proposed intensifying dialogue with third countries and international organizations of mutual economic interest.

“The international agenda is important from the point of view of expanding sales markets. Partners should know about our advantages. It seems important to attract third countries to participate in certain EAEU infrastructure projects,” he noted. 

During the Digital Almaty 2024 forum on Feb. 2,  Bakytzhan Sagintayev said the EAEU member states need to reach a new level of digitalization for the benefit of citizens.

“I am convinced that any undertaking in the field of digitalization should come from the life situation in a broad sense – be it the digitalization of industrial processes or the receipt of certificates for citizens. Ultimately, it is business and citizens who are the beneficiaries of integration processes,” he said.

Bilateral meetings 

Smailov held several meetings with his counterparts of the EAEU member states on Feb. 1-2.

During the talks with the Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers and Head of the Presidential Administration of the Kyrgyz Republic Akylbek Zhaparov, Smailov noted the progressive development of trade and economic interaction between the countries. In 11 months last year, mutual trade grew by 12% and reached $1.3 billion. Both countries continue to make efforts to bring the volume of trade turnover to $2 billion.

Smailov and Zhaparov discussed a wide range of areas of bilateral cooperation, including trade, economic and oil and gas industries.

The sides agreed to accelerate opening an additional checkpoint for freight vehicles on the Kazakh-Kyrgyz border and strengthen cooperation in the water and energy sectors.

At the meeting with Mishustin, the parties discussed interstate cooperation in trade, investment, industry, energy, transport and logistics, agriculture, and education.

Smailov and Mishustin discussed the transit of Kazakh coal through Russian territory and eliminated problems regarding the entry of Kazakh carriers into Russia.

Smailov said Russia is one of Kazakhstan’s main trade and economic partners. The volume of trade turnover totaled $24 billion in 11 months of last year.

Smailov also met with Prime Minister of Uzbekistan Abdulla Aripov to discuss prospects for strengthening trade and economic cooperation in agriculture, transit, transport and gas sectors. Notably, the counterparts focused on implementing the roadmap to increase bilateral trade turnover and reviewed the results of joint industrial projects.

During the meeting, Smailov and Aripov addressed interstate water relations. The parties noted the high level of the existing partnership and confirmed their readiness to implement previously reached agreements and strengthen interaction, including within the water resources management and use. 

Uzbekistan is one of Kazakhstan’s largest trading partners. Trade turnover in 2022 reached the planned milestone of $5 billion. Over the 11 months last year, mutual trade reached $4.1 billion. However, according to Smailov, both countries face the task of bringing trade turnover to $10 billion.

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