In a recent visit to Kazakhstan, President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan met with the Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev and the two leaders expressed a solid commitment to the strengthening of bilateral relations. Key outcomes of the visit included the decision to establish a Supreme Interstate Council and six memorandums of cooperation to foster partnership in the development of small and medium businesses, science and research, media, sports, and culture.
The visit took place against the backdrop of increased regional cooperation, particularly in energy, transportation, and security, which has been significantly disrupted because of the conflict in Ukraine. It also came just nine months after Kazakh President’s visit to Baku in August 2022. During that visit, the two leaders signed a declaration on strengthening strategic relations and deepening allied engagement, as well as a comprehensive program of cooperation development for 2022-2026, reflecting the strategic nature of bilateral ties.
An expert at the Kazakhstan Institute of Strategic Studies, while stressing the importance of these visits, said, “In the current period of international relations, when the confrontation between great powers has reached unprecedented levels, the fact that our countries can be called like-minded is an important achievement.”
Both the presidents agreed that the potential for trade and economic partnerships remained untapped and emphasized the need to expand the range of goods for export and import. President Tokayev said that he believed trade turnover could reach $1 billion due to the economic potential of Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan.
According to the Kazakh Ministry of National Economy, trade between Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan reached an all-time high of $461.9 million last year, growing by 40 percent compared to 2021. The volume of bilateral trade in agricultural products has tripled, reaching $146 million.
Kazakh exports to Azerbaijan surged 30 percent to $375.3 million, primarily driven by a 3.6-fold increase in wheat exports, which account for 26 percent of the nation’s total exports to Azerbaijan.
Besides wheat, the increase in exports was also influenced by a three-fold increase in supplies of oil products, reaching $84.5 million and the resumption of oil supplies of $74.9 million.
Kazakhstan also exports rolled metal products, railway locomotives, electric batteries, mineral fertilizers, and food products such as rice, vegetables, chocolate and other items of confectionery.
Imports also grew by a staggering 90 percent to $86.6 million, driven by the start of shipments of watercraft ($22 million), seamless pipes ($7.7 million), sugar ($13.7 million), and mineral water ($7.3 million).
It was noted that an upward trend continued in 2023, with trade growing by 14 percent so far.
Last year, Azerbaijan’s investments in Kazakhstan reached $69.7 million, the highest since 2005. Investments were largely made in Kazakhstan’s oil and gas sector.
The bilateral trade mission this month signed export contracts worth $55 million in Baku to supply batteries, sheet steel, and food products.
“Azerbaijan’s market is of great interest for the export of Kazakhstan’s processed products,” said Kazakhstan’s Minister of Trade and Integration.
One of the major projects the two countries are implementing is laying a fiber-optic communication line (FOCL) along the bottom of the Caspian Sea on the Azerbaijan-Kazakhstan route. According to the Kazakh Ministry of National Economy, the project cost is estimated at 22.8 billion tenge ($50.4 million).
TITR is an important area of cooperation between the countries of the region. TITR, also known as the Middle Corridor, which is a branch of “One road, one belt” project being implemented by China, is a multimodal transportation corridor that connects China, Central Asia, the Caspian Sea region, the Caucasus, and Europe. The route is an alternative to the traditional sea and land routes between Asia and Europe, offering faster and more efficient transportation of goods.
An important outcome of the visit was the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Foreign Trade Chamber of Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan’s Small and Medium Business Development Agency (SMBDA).
In the Memorandum, promotion, and support of cooperation between SMEs of both the countries, trade, investment opportunities, economic cooperation, mutual information on innovations and various events in the field of SMEs, exchange of experience in the field of service to SMEs, joint events and exhibitions to strengthen cooperation between SMEs are envisaged.
Samir Humbatov, a noted scholar of Azerbaijan said, “This visit will have a positive impact on the bilateral relations and the political and economic processes taking place at the regional and global levels.“
During the Azerbaijan President’s visit, President Tokayev and President Aliyev together opened a street in Astana named after Heydar Aliyev, who was the President of Azerbaijan between 1993 and 2003.
The two nations also decided to enhance cooperation in the cultural sphere.
“Agreement has been reached to organize Days of Azerbaijan Culture in our country. Separately, I would like to note that a number of commemorative events will be dedicated on the 100th anniversary of the birth of national leader and outstanding statesman of Azerbaijan, Heydar Aliyevich Aliyev in Kazakhstan this year,” the Kazakh President stated.
Author:Raza Syed is a British journalist from a Pakistani background has experience in international journalism in several countries.He has a good command of Central Asia and South Asia.He maintains over thirty years of experience in journalism.He has three Degrees at the Master’s level in different fields of journalism from the UK.