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Kazakhstan, China leaders to discuss closer economic cooperation

May 07, 2015, 3:47 UTC+3 ASTANA
1 pages in this article

ASTANA, May 7. /TASS/. Issues of closer economic cooperation and anti-terrorism efforts will be in focus of talks between the Presidents of Kazakhstan and China, Nursultan Nazarbayev and Xi Jinping, on Thursday.

Xi’s visit to Kazakhstan will be the first official visit by a foreign leader after the early presidential elections in Kazakhstan on April 26, when Nazarbayev was re-elected president for another term.

Ahead of the visit, Chinese Deputy Foreign Minister Cheng Guoping said the visit "will demonstrate China’s political support to the head of state" and "will prove the high level of strategic partnership and the quality of relations between the two countries." He said the two leaders would exchange views on major regional and international problems, including rebuffing separatism and international terrorism.

Kazakhstan, on its part, expects considerable results in the economic sphere. At his first news conference after the elections, Nazarbayev said he would discuss with his Chinese counterpart "an absolutely new programme of cooperation with China on the diversification of Kazakhstan’s economy." "Jointly, we will build dozens of utterly new enterprises," he pledged.

Astana and Beijing have close relations. In 2014, trade between the two countries reached 17.2 billion U.S. dollars. China is Kazakhstan’s third major trade partner after the European Union and Russia. A key area of cooperation between Kazakhstan and China is the oil and gas sector. Chinese companies own a number of big oil assets in Kazakhstan, including a share in its biggest field, Kashang. Chinese companies lavishly invest into the construction of oil and gas mains to pump hydrocarbons to the Chinese market.

Another priority of Kazakhstan-China partnership is the development of transport infrastructure. Kazakhstan is building its sector of the highway linking Western China and Western Europe. A new cross-border railway sections Altyngol-Khorgos has been built, a big transport and logistics hub is being set up in Khorgos at the Kazakh-Chinese border.

While visiting China in May 2014, the Kazakh president along with Xi Jinping took part in the ceremony of commissioning phase one of the Kazakh logistics terminal at the sea port of Lianyungang. Also in 2014, the construction of the railway Zhezkazgan-Beineu was completed. The railway will facilitate the delivery of Chinese cargoes to the Caspian region.

Speaking at an extended government meeting on May 5, Nazarbayev instructed the government to work on the project of a Eurasian transcontinental transport corridor that "will integrate all means of transport services - air, sea, railway and motor." One of the would-be corridor’s routes will go "across Kazakhstan, from Khorgos to the port of Aktau, and further to the Caucasian countries across the Caspian Sea and further southwards - to the Persian Gulf via Iran."

Kazakhstan attaches greater significance to the forthcoming talks, which are expected to bring economic partnership between the two countries up to a new level - to the implementation of joint projects in the processing and agricultural sectors. The basis for that was laid during a visit to Kazakhstan by Premier of China’s State Council Li Keqiang in December 2014, when he said that the most promising areas of cooperation were non-raw materials sector, such as machine-building, agriculture, processing of mineral resources. The sides signed agreements providing for Chinese investments to an overall sum of 14 billion U.S. dollars. Nazarbayev said back then that his talks with the Chinese side had yielded an agreement to "build 15-20 new plants.".

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