This year's forum takes place in Kostanay and focuses on agriculture as the foundation of a strong economy.
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Address by the President of Russia at the plenary session
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Colleagues, friends,
I am delighted to address the participants of the 19th Russia-Kazakhstan Interregional Cooperation Forum, which I am attending jointly with President Tokayev.
It is important that representatives of more than 30 regions of Russia and Kazakhstan − government officials, lawmakers, representatives of ministries and agencies, businesses, academic community and civil society − have gathered in Kostanay for this event. These are the people who deal with the practical aspects of developing the entire scope of our relations in their work on a daily basis, be it in politics, the economy or humanitarian affairs.
It is largely thanks to your energetic and proactive efforts that cooperation between our countries’ regions continues to develop, involving new participants and becoming more practical. As of now, 76 Russian regions have established direct partner ties with regions in Kazakhstan.
It is also important that interregional visits have become regular. This year, for example, very fruitful working trips, as far as I know, have been made by the heads of Yakutia and the Astrakhan and Chelyabinsk regions to various regions in Kazakhstan. Large Kazakh delegations took part in the Krasnoyarsk Economic Forum and the events held on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of Buryatia.
We continue to develop and enlarge the substantive legal framework of regional cooperation, which comprises, in particular, over 60 agreements between our countries’ regional governments. As far as I know, a number of new agreements and memoranda, as well as commercial contracts worth in total about $100 million, have been prepared for signing based on the results of this forum.
It is a good example of the successful development of Russia-Kazakhstan economic ties. I would like to note in this connection that thanks to the active contribution of our regions, Russia’s trade with Kazakhstan increased by over 10 percent in 2022 and reached $28.2 billion according to our statistics, or $27 billion as the President of Kazakhstan said. In January to August 2023, our mutual trade increased by another 7 percent. At the same time, we are using national currencies for export-import transactions more actively.
Russia is one of the major investors in Kazakhstan’s economy, as we heard here earlier. The total volume of Russian investments is slightly lower, according to our statistics: my friend and colleague President Tokayev said that it was over $20 billion, and in our estimation, it is slightly over $17 billion. It is a good result and a good trend overall. Kazakhstan’s investments into Russia amount to $4.6 billion, according to our data. Some 6,000 companies with Russian capital operate in various regions of Kazakhstan, while the total cost of joint projects that are being implemented with Russian participation is $36.5 billion. It is an impressive figure for our economy.
Naturally, we are seeing that our mutual trade and mutual investments in agriculture are growing. So, it is logical that the current plenary session of the forum is devoted to a topic that is of big interest to us: Agriculture as the Foundation of a Strong Economy. I am pleased to note that you discuss various aspects of this issue in great detail and in a professional way, such as strengthening food security and introducing innovative agricultural technology.
I think that the President of Kazakhstan will agree that the development of bilateral cooperation in the agro-industrial sector is a priority both for the Russian and Kazakhstani economic policy. In fact, holding a specialised interregional forum devoted to agriculture is clear proof of this.
I would like to note that Russia is Kazakhstan’s key supplier of various products such as wheat (98 percent of imports), barley (98 percent), poultry (80–90 percent), sugar (up to 70 percent), and fermented milk products (60–70 percent).
Overall, bilateral turnover of agricultural products and foods grew by 22 percent and reached $4 billion in 2022; in the first seven months of this year, it increased by another 3 percent. Our country is ready to continue to provide the Kazakhstani market with an uninterrupted supply of these and many other crucial food products in accordance with the needs of our colleagues and friends in Kazakhstan.
It is important that the relevant Russian agencies and regional authorities along with their colleagues from Kazakhstan are taking steps towards integrating the information systems of veterinary and phytosanitary certification to ensure a complete traceability of goods shipped across the border, and to ease their delivery to the markets of both countries.
I also want to mention that our country helps Kazakhstani farmers by supplying the main types of fertilisers, as the President of Kazakhstan has just said. As we also mentioned, one of the largest in the CIS and even Europe phosphoric fertiliser production facilities, built with Russia’s assistance, operates in the Jambyl Region. Another similar chemical facility with a production capacity of up to 1 million tonnes of products is currently under construction.
In cooperation with the two countries’ regional authorities, much has been achieved in optimising the logistics of agricultural trade, removing infrastructure restrictions, and this work should certainly continue. In this context, I would like to note the great importance of successfully developing the North – South international transport logistics corridor, running from Russia, or even our partners and friends in Belarus, to the Indian Ocean coast. One of the corridor’s routes could surely run through the territory of Kazakhstan. As a matter of fact, it does run through the territory of Kazakhstan, and our common goal is to develop this corridor.
The Russian and Kazakhstani regions cooperate on large-scale joint projects focused on the production and supplies of high-quality agricultural equipment, as we said earlier. Rostselmash and St Petersburg Tractor Company, which have been mentioned, as well as other machine-building facilities, not only export their products but also localise the assembly of their products in Kazakhstan.
Russian regions make a substantial contribution to training professionals for the Kazakhstani agricultural industry. I am talking about enrolling students from Kazakhstan to our higher education institutions specialising in agriculture, as well as creating specialised education centres in the regions of Kazakhstan.
It is notable that the integration processes that are gathering momentum in the Eurasian Economic Union directly promote stronger interregional cooperation between Russia and Kazakhstan in agriculture. The EAEU countries are working together to develop common commodity, including agricultural, markets and industrial and technological chains, and are also proactive in the spheres of import substitution and the digitisation of mutual trade.
The EAEU has reached the level of self-sufficiency in the majority of agricultural products. Our union firmly holds leading positions in the world in wheat production and exports. Incidentally, Russia has gathered a very good wheat harvest this year, our export potential will be maintained at 60 million tonnes, and we will undoubtedly keep the world leadership in the export of wheat and the sale of this important commodity on the global markets. The same can be said about potatoes and animal products, where our union is among the world’s top 10 suppliers of barley, corn, oil crops and frozen fish.
Thanks to mutual deliveries, the agricultural businesses of the five EAEU states harmoniously complement each other, which makes for the reliable supply of food not only to our countries but also to foreign markets. In light of our modern-day capabilities, which are growing, we are aware of our responsibility to our partners and colleagues in other countries, especially considering the trends we discussed today, including in demography, which the President of Kazakhstan has mentioned.
In conclusion, I would like to say again that interregional ties are playing a key role in Russia-Kazakhstan partnership. We will continue to encourage the regions’ desire to cooperate with each other and to look for new spheres of interaction, and we will certainly support our colleagues’ positive initiatives.
I would like to wish fruitful work and all the best to the participants and organisers of the forum. The next interregional forum will be held in Ufa, Russia, in 2024, and we certainly invite all of you to attend it.