UAE Strengthens Economic Cooperation With Kazakhstan

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Billions of dollars of investment projects being discussed while bilateral trade increases 50%

The UAE is committed to strengthening mutually beneficial cooperation with Kazakhstan in all sectors of the economy, UAE President Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan said during an official visit to the country by Kazakh Prime Minister Alikhan Smailov last week.

The viewpoint was reciprocated with Smailov saying that “We intend to further strengthen full-scale economic cooperation in all areas of mutual interest. We are also grateful to the United Arab Emirates for constant and unfailing support for Kazakhstan’s international initiatives. The United Arab Emirates is the main trade and economic partner of Kazakhstan in the region. The Emirates maintain a leading position among the Arab countries in terms of trade with our country.”

At the end of 2021, UAE-Kazakh bilateral trade reached US$709 million, an increase of almost 50% compared to 2020. The number of joint projects in various industries has also steadily increased in recent years. The UAE is Kazakhstan’s leading strategic, trade, and economic partner in the Arab region, most notably in the petrochemical, energy, transport, logistical services, agriculture, and aerospace sectors. The Baikonur space rocket launch facility used by Russia is based in Kazakhstan.

The UAE’s direct investments in Kazakhstan over the past 16 years have amounted to more than US$2.6 billion. While in Abu Dhabi, Smailov met with Musabbeh Al-Kaabi, the Chairman of the Emirati state-owned Mubadala Investment Company, which holds US$285 billion in assets and ranks 13th in the world rating of sovereign funds. Following the meeting, Al-Kaabi voiced interest in investing in Kazakhstan’s green energy, finances, mining, and oil and gas sectors.

In total, the Kazakh delegation presented the Emirati companies 40 investment projects worth US$6.5 billion in mining, agriculture, oil and gas, and construction fields.

“We have serious potential in the areas of energy, chemical industry, agriculture, mining, and metallurgical complex. In this context, I would like to propose to participate in the implementation of new projects specially prepared taking into account the current situation in the world,” the Kazakh prime minister stated.

Smailov also highlighted the potential of the Trans-Caspian International Trade Route (TITR), known as the “Middle Corridor,” as the main pivot for realizing the transcontinental trade potential and attracting private investments. Kazakhstan is actively developing the Trans-Caspian International Transport Route, with Kazakhstan planning to construct a shipbuilding plant along the shore of the Caspian Sea. Kazakhstan has a Caspian Sea Port at Aqtau.

The TITR runs from the Chinese Lianyungang Seaport to the Chinese-Kazakh border, and continues through Kazakhstan, the Caspian Sea, Azerbaijan, and Georgia and onto Europe. Goods are transported by railway to the Kazakh seaports of Aqtau and Kuryk and further sent to the Baku Port in Azerbaijan by ships via the Caspian Sea. In Azerbaijan, containers are transported along the 826-kilometer Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway towards Georgia and Türkiye. The route further splits up into two with both leading to Europe — one of them passes through the Turkish cities of Mersin and Istanbul and the Mediterranean Sea.

Alternatively, the route from Aqtau can head south to Iran’s Caspian Sea Port at Anzali, which can then be carried by the INSTC, bisecting Iran to its southern Persian Gulf port at Chabahar. Vessels can then reach other ports such as Qatar, further along the Gulf coastline.

In 2021, the transit and container traffic on TITR surpassed 25,000 twenty-foot equivalent containers (TEU), increasing 20 percent from 2020. The participating countries intend to increase the volume of cargo along the route by six times to 3.2 million tonnes per annum.

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