Kazakhstan is “the living proof” of a Central Asian country having good relations both with the EU and Russia, Luc De Vigne, deputy-managing director for Europe and Central Asia in the European External Action Service (EEAS) said when speaking at a conference dedicated to EU-Kazakhstan relations. Mr. De Vigne said that the EU’s relationship with Central Asia in general and with Kazakhstan in particular “has never been any stronger or any better”. He added that both sides shared many common objectives, such as regional peace and stability, fight against terrorism, the rule of law, economic development, and trade.
The conference focused on the enhanced partnership between Kazakhstan and the EU and concluded with an agreement signed by the EU and one of its Central Asian partners – the first of its kind. The agreement is described as WTO-Plus since one of its chapters on government procurement reflects the equivalent WTO chapter (GPA). “Kazakhstan has indeed become a key economic but also political partner of the European Union. Obviously the country is the largest economy in Central Asia and we are very happy that it is back to growth,” Mr. De Vigne commented.
The EU is the largest investor in the Central Asian country, with a total of $10.8 billion of foreign direct investment (FDI), almost half of the total FDI to Kazakhstan. Between 2005 and 2016, the country attracted a total of $263.58 billion in FDI, of which $119.9 from the EU (45.5%). Mr. De Vigne added there was “a growing confidence from commercial actors in the strong economy of Kazakhstan” and also in the country’s further reforms.