A historic deal between the EU and Kazakhstan called Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement was launched yesterday (20 January). The agreement is expected to contribute to building stronger political and economic ties between the EU and Kazakhstan. It is moreover hoped to boost the volume of mutual trade, services, and investment between both sides. Ultimately, the partnership should directly contribute to Kazakhstan’s economic, social, and political development. On the Kazakhstan’s side, the partnership was initialed by Mr Alexei Volkov, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Ms Zhanar Aitzhanova, Minister of Economic Integration. The EU was represented by Mr Gunnar Wiegand of the European External Action Service and Mr Luc Pierre Devigne of the EU’s Directorate-General for Trade.
The EU and Kazakhstan collaborate in the framework of a regional system, which includes all five Central Asian republics. Kazakhstan has become the first Central Asian partner to have concluded an Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement with Brussels. The new deal will thus replace the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement that has been in force since 1999, and will provide both the EU and Kazakhstan with a stronger foundation for mutual relations. The EU assistance to Kazakhstan generally focuses on strengthening the capacity of regional and local government, supporting the reform of the justice sector, and improving the capacity of the public sector to introduce social and economic reforms.
The EU has gradually become Kazakhstan’s most important trade partner and foreign investor, with almost 40 percent share in its total external trade, representing more than 50 percent of the total FDI in the country. EU’s exports to Kazakhstan mostly include machinery and transport equipment, whereas Kazakhstan’s exports to the block predominantly consist of oil and gas which account for more than 80 percent of the country’s total exports. Bilateral trade currently amounts to more than €31 billion, from which €7.5 billion is EU exports to Kazakhstan and € 24 billion is Kazakhstan’s exports to the EU.