This year's forum in Orenburg focuses on the removal of infrastructural constraints on international trade. Government officials, businesspeople and experts from the two countries are taking part in discussions at the forum.
* * *
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr President, colleagues and friends,
First of all, I would like to extend a cordial welcome to Mr Tokayev: he is in Russia on his first official visit since his re-election as President of Kazakhstan. I would like to congratulate him once again on his convincing victory in the elections and sincerely wish him success in implementing all his plans for large-scale transformations in the political, social and economic life of the country.
Mr Tokayev and I agreed in advance to address the participants and guests of the 18th Russia-Kazakhstan Interregional Cooperation Forum together. Of course, we are glad that the heads of about 40 government bodies of our two countries, legislators, representatives of ministries and agencies, businesspeople, scientists and civic leaders have gathered in Orenburg.
Colleagues, you are discussing truly pressing issues of bilateral cooperation in various fields such as politics, the economy and the humanitarian field, and are outlining new joint projects in such a broad format. Today we have held substantive discussions on the main topic of this forum, the removal of infrastructural constraints on international trade.
I would like to note that Russia-Kazakhstan interregional forums always produce substantial results, helping to expand the network of partner contacts between the constituent entities of the Russian Federation and the regions of Kazakhstan and thus making a notable contribution to developing the entire scope of multi-dimensional and mutually beneficial cooperation between our countries.
Interregional contacts continue to deepen. Today, 76 out of 89 Russian regions have established direct trade and economic ties with Kazakhstani partners. Sister cities – Moscow and Astana, St Petersburg and Almaty, Rostov-on-Don and Uralsk, Makhachkala and Aktau, Omsk and Pavlodar – are working together very successfully.
This year, a permanent working group for cooperation between economic entities of the Republic of Bashkortostan and the Republic of Kazakhstan has been established. The governments of Volgograd, Novosibirsk, Omsk, Sverdlovsk and many other regions have adopted and are implementing special partnership programmes with the akimats (local governments) of the regions of Kazakhstan.
Large delegations of Kazakhstani public and business circles took part in the eighth Pacific Tourism Forum in Vladivostok and in the Krasnoyarsk Economic Forum. Governmental delegations from the Republic of Khakassia and the Krasnoyarsk Territory are in the process of agreeing dates for their visits to the capital of Kazakhstan.
An impressive, solid contractual and legal basis for regional cooperation has been created and is constantly developing; ten interdepartmental and interregional agreements and memorandums, as well as commercial contracts, have been prepared for signing following this forum.
Largely due to the regions’ activity, last year our countries recorded unprecedented trade growth: almost 35 percent, up to $25.6 billion. Over the first eight months of this year, mutual trade gained another nine percent.
Russia has been a major investor in Kazakhstan’s economy. Russia’s investment totals almost $17 billion. The countries are jointly implementing over 30 major investment projects in all key sectors of the economy, including industrial production, engineering, the railway sector, nuclear energy, the chemical industry, and many others.
Particular attention is paid to developing a joint transport and logistics infrastructure and removing restrictions that hinder trade and investment exchanges. This is especially important now, when international trade is in crisis.
With this in mind, Russia is implementing ambitious measures to redirect its exports and imports to new markets. Work is underway to equip and improve the efficiency of the new East – West and North – South international corridors.
Together with our Kazakhstani partners, we take coordinated steps to increase the competitiveness and strengthen the transit capacity of our transport systems.
Projects are being implemented to expand the capacity of automobile border crossings, and conditions are being created to increase cargo transportation by water, including in the Caspian Sea and along the Irtysh River.
The Eurasian Rail Alliance, established by Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus, is operating successfully, providing stable and safe railway service between the countries of the Eurasian continent.
I would also like to mention that Russia and Kazakhstan implement joint initiatives on energy infrastructure development and hydrocarbon exploration and production. Cooperation progressing in the oil-and-gas and electricity sectors, including mutual supplies and transit of oil, gas and electricity.
Russia and Kazakhstan also actively cooperate within the Eurasian Union, which is forming common energy markets. Together with our partners in the EAEU, we are engaged in the digitalisation of transport and logistics routes and the introduction of artificial intelligence to accelerate cargo flows.
At the initiative of Russia and Kazakhstan, the EAEU is developing a digital transport corridor ecosystem, aimed at optimising information exchange between economic operators.
In general, Russia and Kazakhstan have broad prospects for joint work in various sectors of the economy, including high-technology ones. Undoubtedly, the regions of our countries will actively participate in this work.
In conclusion, colleagues, I would like to wish the participants of the Orenburg forum success and all the best.
Thank you for your attention, and I am pleased to give the floor to our guest and friend, the President of Kazakhstan.
President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev: Mr President, forum participants,
First of all, I would like to express my gratitude to the President of Russia and all our Russian colleagues for the high level of organisation of this event.
The theme of the forum is of particular importance in today’s conditions of an international trade crisis and geopolitical uncertainty. Indeed, the removal of all restrictions and the creation of mutually beneficial conditions in trade is, of course, the key to the qualitative economic growth of our countries, so our meeting today is essential.
According to World Trade Organisation data, the most developed countries in the world, which were at the origins of liberal trade agreements, have been increasing the introduction of export restrictions over the last six months. Thus, the G20 introduced 47 restrictive measures on goods whose trade volume exceeded $160 billion from May to October. We are talking about the continuing introduction of new export bans, and additional licensing requirements, quotas, and duties.
In this situation, fortunately, cooperation between Kazakhstan and Russia, I would say, is strikingly different from global trends.
Last month we marked a significant date for our countries: the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations. Over this time, our states have been able to build a mutually beneficial strategic partnership based on strong ties of friendship and goodneighbourliness. A trusting, constructive dialogue has been established between our countries, and a high level of cooperation has been achieved.
We actively cooperate within international organisations and integration associations such as the United Nations, the CIS, the CSTO, the Eurasian Economic Union, the SCO, the OSCE, and the CICA, which makes a significant contribution to ensuring regional security and enhancing the role of all of Eurasia in global politics and the economy.
From year to year, economic cooperation between our countries is increasing, mutual trade is steadily growing, joint projects are being implemented, and the share of national currencies in mutual settlements is increasing.
Last year trade between Russia and Kazakhstan reached a new record: almost $24.5 billion. The results of the first nine months of this year show an increase of 5 percent in trade.
The variety of Kazakhstani exports to Russia has improved, and is valued at over $100,000. Compared to last year, the number of commodity items increased from 640 to 1,050 items.
Shipments of goods to Russia’s regions have grown: over two and half-fold from Almaty, as an example, and five-fold from Astana. Cross-border trade has increased significantly. For example, shipments to Russia from the Aktobe Region increased by 48 percent, and from the Pavlodar Region – by 36 percent.
Russian exports to Kazakhstan are also increasing. Petroleum product exports increased by 35 percent, those of semi-finished products and steel grew by 22 percent, exports of ores and precious metals increased by 20 percent, and wheat exports almost doubled.
More than 17,000 companies with Russian participation or Kazakhstani-Russian joint ventures successfully operate in our country.
Russian investments in Kazakhstan increase every year, and we will do everything possible to ensure the safety of Russian investment and to attract as much as possible to our economy. This is further proof of effective economic cooperation between our countries.
Last year, the inflow of direct investment from Russia to Kazakhstan surpassed pre-pandemic levels by more than a third at over $1.9 billion. At the same time, investments from Kazakhstan to Russia also increased by 34 percent, reaching $535 million.
At the same time, there is significant potential for further strengthening of trade and economic cooperation between our countries.
One area we are particularly interested in is collaborative cooperation. To date, Kazakhstan and Russia have implemented 110 joint projects worth a total of $23 billion with the creation of about 30,000 jobs. These are very good indicators for industrial cooperation between our countries.
Against the backdrop of today's challenges, we need to accelerate the modernisation of supply chains. Only timely and brave decisions can help in the search for new points of growth in trade and the economy as a whole.
In order to form a modern and efficient infrastructure for selling products, a system of trade hubs for the entire Eurasian space is being created in the border regions of Kazakhstan. This includes the Eurasia cross-border trade centre in western Kazakhstan and on the border with the Russian Federation; similar trade hubs are being created on the borders with Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, as well as, of course, on the border with China. At the same time, these hubs will be logistically linked to the ports of Aktau and Kuryk for the distribution of exports and imports to the Caspian countries, as well as to Türkiye and Europe. We are currently developing a modern container hub as a special economic zone – the Port of Aktau.
On this basis we plan to comprehensively develop international trade and production centres. I know this work is necessary and beneficial for both Kazakhstan and the entire region, and, of course, the Russian Federation.
At the same time, in order to further expand our multifaceted, mutually beneficial cooperation, I suggest we concentrate our joint efforts on several areas.
Firstly, we believe that it is necessary to improve the activity of the sub-commission on cross-border and interregional cooperation. Among the sub-commission’s key tasks are the coordination and implementation of interregional cooperation programmes. The last meeting was held in October 2019, but due to the coronavirus pandemic, there have been no meetings since. I think that a regular meeting of the sub-commission should be held soon, especially given that several issues that require discussion have accumulated.
Secondly, special attention should be paid to the improvement of the border infrastructure and increasing the capacity of the border checkpoints between Kazakhstan and Russia. I believe this needs to be done in connection with the trans-national corridors that are currently being created, including within the Belt and Road initiative, the North-South corridor, and of course, these transport corridors need to be aligned with the activity of the Eurasian Economic Union.
Thirdly, Kazakhstan is interested in the development of stable trade and investment relations. The priority is the construction of highways, and new logistics hubs and economic zones in our border areas.
In 2019, the Qyzyljar special economic zone was created in the North Kazakhstan Region. In the near future, contemporary export-oriented production facilities will appear there. I believe that the activity of this special economic zone will promote cooperation between the two countries’ border areas.
Another priority is expanding cooperation in producing high value-added goods. The Pavlodar and Atyrau regions offer favourable conditions for Russian aluminium and petrochemical company activity. I am sure that border cooperation in this area will facilitate the strengthening of our countries’ industrial potential.
Overall, interregional and cross-border cooperation should become a platform for constructive interaction between our countries in all areas. I know that today’s discussion will help develop new initiatives aimed at improving equal and mutually beneficial partnerships between our countries.
In conclusion, I would like to wish you successful and productive work.