Kazakhstan is the economic centerpiece of Central Asia and there is need for more open trade relationship for a deeper engagement.
This was the view of Shambhu S. Kumaran, , Joint Secretary (ERS) in the Ministry of External Affairs, at FICCI-KAZNEX Invest Road Show held in New Delhi. Kumaran said that while at the moment individual preferential trade agreement cannot be signed, but there has been good progress in increasing connectivity. “Our airlines are trying to increase frequency of flights. The Kazakh airlines has already gone ahead with increase in frequency of flights to India. We fully support this move.”
Kumaran said the rail link between Kazakhstan and Iran in 2014 has made some significance progress. “We will send a container via Russia to test the corridor,” he added. At the same time he suggested the need to diversify the trade basket with Kazakhstan of which a few areas have been identified. The Kazakh Special Economic Zones (SEZs) fit in these plans. “There may be areas and opportunities which one can do together; there is potential for good synergy.”
In his address, Secretary General of FICCI, A Didar Singh said, “Indian companies have already invested in Kazakhstan. During the visit of Indian Prime Minister to Almaty an agreement was signed to promote investments on both sides. “Kazakhstan is a gateway to both sides – to Europe on one and Asia on the other,” Didar Singh said.
In his welcome address, Ambassador of Kazakhstan, Bulat Sarsenbayev said, “We are strategic partners and support each others in many sectors. During Prime Minister Modi’s visit to Kazakhstan several agreements were signed of which 26 projects are a roadmap to closer cooperation. Some delegations are coming for these projects.”
Speaking about increase in number of direct flights between India and Kazakhstan, the Ambassador said there is a daily flight to Almaty and now this will be increased to 10 flights a week to Astana. The number of tourists between the two countries was increasing. There were 14000 visitors from India to Kazakhstan and 16000 the other way round.
He said the USD 1.3 billion trade with India was the largest among all the Central Asian countries. Kazakhstan has established 10 Special Economic zones for accelerating economic growth.