Kazakhstan becomes a key strategic partner for Qatar

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By Raza Syed

Kazakhstan has become a key political and economic partner for Qatar in recent years, as evidenced by regular meetings between the heads of the two countries. During his upcoming trip to Doha, President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev will meet with the Emir of Qatar Tamim bin Hamad for the fourth time over the past two years.
Qatar Chamber encourages Qatari businessmen to explore investment opportunities in Kazakhstan. Qatari investors, interested in establishing new investments outside Qatar in line with the country’s strategy for economic diversification, consider Kazakhstan as a promising destination for investment because of its wide investment opportunities.
The third phase of Kazakhstan’s economic modernization is very similar to Qatar National Vision 2030 as both aims to improve the lives of citizen. The third modernization of Kazakhstan aims to divide power, increase democracy, and increase the responsibility of parliament and government.
Qatari companies have shown keenness in participating in Kazakhstan’s privatization program to enter the energy sector. In several meetings with Qatari government and private companies, delegations from Kazakhstan put forward about 40 investment projects worth about USD 4.6 billion in the sectors of agriculture, mining industry, petrochemicals, tourism infrastructure development, livestock breeding, dairy production, infrastructure development and others.
Since the establishment of diplomatic relations between Doha and Astana, there has been mutual support for the initiatives of the two countries in regional and international forums, including Qatar’s accession to membership in the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA) in 2015, and to the Islamic Organisation for Food Security (IOFS).
Kazakhstan and Qatar have signed an agreement on mutual protection of investments. The parties are already working on mutual promising projects in various sectors of the economy. To strengthen cooperation, Astana and Doha signed an investment protection agreement. Countries have begun to implement projects worth $1.3 billion. For example, it is planned that a grain processing plant will be built in the Akmola region with the participation of Qatari investors. The estimated cost of the project is $200 million.
It is a fact that Qatar, in view of unstable conditions in global food market and disruption of supply chain, has in recent years attached great importance to its own food security. The development of cooperation with Kazakhstan in the field of agro-industrial complex (given the huge potential of the Republic of Kazakhstan in the field of agriculture) can help Doha diversify the supply of much needed agricultural goods
Thus, the Qatari company Hassad Food, the largest food security enterprise in the Emirate, became interested in the capabilities of the Kazakh agro-industrial complex. Mohammed Al Sada, CEO, Hassad Food noted that his company intends to strengthen trade relations between the countries to ensure food security.
Moreover, Qatar’s Power International Holding along with Chinese China International Capital Corporation and Baiterek, the Kazakh holding, has agreed on the development of the agro-industrial complex in Kazakhstan. The parties will create a direct investment fund in Kazakhstan with the participation of Qatari and Chinese companies for the development of the dairy cluster, including the production, processing and export of dairy products.
The Qatari Power International Holding, represented by its subsidiary Baladna, will act as a technological partner, and the created fund will become one of the tenth largest processors of dairy products in the world.
This will attract long-term investments and give a new impetus to the development of not only the dairy industry, but also the entire agro-industrial complex of Kazakhstan in general. There will be more emphasis on growing and processing grains and legumes with the view of exporting them.
During his visit to Qatar last year, Alikhan Smailov, the Prime Minister of Kazakhstan, in a meeting with the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, pointed to a significant potential to increase the volume of mutual trade, proposing to expand the export of Kazakh products to Qatar for 60 commodity items worth $243 million and enhance the investment partnership.
“Many Kazakh companies producing meat and food products express interest in exporting their goods to the Qatari market,” said Smailov, proposing to speed up the procedures for coordinating halal certificates between the two countries.
In an interview with Qatar News Agency (QNA) before the visit of the Amir of Qatar to Kazakhstan last year, Ambassador of Kazakhstan to Qatar Arman Issagaliyev said that his country has all the necessary factors of attractiveness for Qatari businessmen as various tax and customs benefits are provided for investors. “There are prospects for cooperation in the educational, cultural, banking and agro-industrial sectors,” he said.
He pointed out that tours to Kazakhstan have become very popular among Qataris and foreigners living in Qatar, while Qatar is also becoming a very attractive tourist destination in his country, especially after Qatar Airways increased direct flights to Almaty to 7 per week and the decision to open direct flights to Astana in mid-2023. For its part, the Kazakh companies “Fly Arystan” and “Scat” have opened direct commercial charter flights to Doha since the beginning of 2023, he said, noting that thanks to these important steps, coupled with the mutual abolition of the visa regime, the trade, economic and business ties, as well as tourism potential have received a powerful boost.
Qatar has also pumped investments into the Kazakh economy, especially in the field of infrastructure. Qatar also funded and opened the Islamic Finance Centre within the Al-Farabi Kazakh National University (KazNU)- the largest university in Kazakhstan – the first of its kind in the Central Asian region.
With regard to the financial co-operation between the two countries, banking co-operation was revitalized with the visit of the Governor of Qatar Central Bank, Nur-Sultan in December 2019, which resulted in Qatar Islamic Bank issuing Islamic sukuk in the Astana International Financial Centre.
Kazakhstan is also looking forward to benefiting from the great experience that Qatar possesses, especially in the fields of liquefied natural gas and petrochemical production. Qatar is one of the largest exporters of liquefied natural gas in the world, while Kazakhstan is taking many measures that serve to promote economic diversification and protect foreign investment and seeks to be a commercial, financial, educational, health and tourism center, as well as excellence in the field of food production.