Kassym-Jomart Tokayev took part in the plenary session of the VI Eastern Economic Forum via videoconference. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Mongolian President Khurelsukh Ukhnaa also delivered speeches. Chinese President Xi Jinping, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha virtually addressed the EEF participants with video greetings.
At the beginning of his speech, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev expressed gratitude to the Russian President for the invitation to speak at such a representative event. As President Tokayev noted, this Forum has rightfully become a reliable international dialogue platform on the most pressing issues of economic cooperation.
Highly commending the unique potential of the Far East, the Head of State said that this region is of great importance for Kazakhstan as a strategic partner, since it geographically connects Eurasia with the dynamically developing Asia-Pacific region.
“Kazakhstan, as the largest economy in Central Asia, plans to strengthen its presence in this region. This approach reflects the essence of our country’s relations with partners in Asia. Comprehensive cooperation with the Russian Federation - our strategic partner and ally, a great Eurasian power, has become a key element of Kazakhstan’s Eurasian strategy, “Kazakhstan President said.
Kassym-Jomart Tokayev identified a number of areas in which he proposed to strengthen cooperation.
The Head of State focused on the importance of building an effective transport infrastructure. He spoke in detail about Kazakhstan’s potential and opportunities in the development of transit hubs, including within linking national plans with the Eurasian Economic Union activities and the Chinese “Belt and Road” Initiative.
“Kazakhstan’s transit has proved its economic attractiveness and reliability. Therefore, we will continue to improve the infrastructure. In particular, we are starting the construction of a new “Dostyk-Moynty” railway line to expand transit from China. The total investment volume will amount to more than US$ 2 billion,” the President informed.
Kassym-Jomart Tokayev supported the idea of the Eastern Economic Forum to create new forms of cooperation to discover the region’s potential.
“It is in our common interest to find new growth points that would attract investment, create jobs and ensure sustainable growth in the future,” he stressed.
Furthermore, the Head of State spoke about a number of successful Kazakh-Russian projects in the areas of mining metallurgy, digitalization, development of COVID-19 vaccine, finance, space, oil and gas, renewable energy sources, automotive industry, as well as about holding an annual Forum of Interregional Cooperation.
The President of Kazakhstan recalled similar joint projects with China and South Korea.
“In general, attracting foreign investment is an absolute priority of our state’s economic policy. More than US$ 365 billion of foreign direct investment has been attracted to Kazakhstan. Even in the last crisis year, the net inflow of investments to Kazakhstan increased by 35%,” he said.
Moreover, President Tokayev spoke about the prospects for strengthening business ties with the countries of the Asia-Pacific region. The Head of State noted that the trade turnover of Kazakhstan with this region exceeded US$ 43 billion last year. At the same time, 94% of them were accounted for by Russia, China and Korea.
“I believe that we have a great potential for further development of trade and expansion of its geography. The role of the Eurasian Economic Union, which promises to become a key player in the global trade and economic community, should be noted here,” the President said.
In his speech, the Head of State focused on the importance of cooperation in ensuring food security at the global level.
Kassym-Jomart Tokayev called for joint efforts to provide those in need with quality and inexpensive food, pointing to the opportunities of the leading agricultural countries of the world. In this regard, the President spoke about Kazakhstan’s agricultural potential, the possibilities of exporting domestic processed products to foreign markets.
“The relevant agencies of Kazakhstan and Russia could consider the possibility of coordinating efforts to bring agricultural products to the third countries’ markets. Kazakhstan is working with China on expanding the range of food and agricultural products for export to China. Long-term cooperation in the area of product supplies can become, similarly with the transit and transport sphere, as another example of successful regional cooperation,” the Head of State said.
Kassym-Jomart Tokayev called the transition to low-carbon development one of the pressing topics of the Forum. He drew attention to the challenges associated with a reduction in investment for the coal industry and a decrease in funding for the oil and gas sector. In his opinion, these measures create risks for the economies of our countries, and may lead to a shortage of resources, inflation, and a decrease in living standards.
“I believe that this issue should be approached as pragmatically as possible and, and in coordination. Each country will have to go through a complex transformation of the technological and economic structure in terms of its content. In addition, this, of course, is a challenge to national economies. However, at the regional and, especially, global level, we can only win being together,” the President believes.
Summing up his speech, the Head of State expressed the opinion that the world has become much more vulnerable in terms of security, despite significant progress in technology and quality of life.
“Kazakhstan adheres to the principle: Eurasia is our common home. We are ready to continue constructive cooperation in all areas. The states of our unique continent could become a cohesive community united by the idea of jointly creating the future through mutually beneficial trade and economic cooperation. Such an approach would certainly give a powerful impetus to the development of regional and global cooperation, and form new points of growth in the economy,” President Tokayev concluded.
In addition, as part of his virtual participation at the plenary session of the EEF, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev together with Russian President Vladimir Putin took part in the signing ceremony of a Memorandum of Cooperation between the Government of Kazakhstan and the SBER group of companies in the implementation of a number of projects on digital transformation, transition to a platform model of digitalization and the Data-Driven Government concept. On the Kazakh side, the document was signed by Prime Minister Askar Mamin, on the Russian side - CEO, Chairman of the Executive Board of Sberbank Herman Gref.
Commenting on the signing of the Memorandum, Kazakhstan President stressed that this project symbolizes the mutual trust of the two states and is truly strategic in nature.
“SBER’s participation, which has been operating very successfully in our market for more than 15 years, in creating the institutional basis of the “GovTech” digital platform makes cooperation between Kazakhstan and Russia more diversified, due to such an extremely important area as intelligent technology. In fact, this is a serious breakthrough. There is no doubt that the implementation of this strategic project will contribute to improving the quality of life of Kazakhstan citizens and improving the business climate,” the Head of State believes.
In turn, Vladimir Putin expressed gratitude to Kassym-Jomart Tokayev for choosing SBER as a strategic partner.
“I hope that today’s joint work will be fruitful and productive. This will serve to further strengthening the full-fledged, creative partnership between our countries and our peoples,” the Russian leader is convinced.