NUR-SULTAN, May 15, 2019 – Kazakhstan's Ambassador to Spain and Andorra Konstantin Zhigalov recently held a briefing for Kazakh media in Nur-Sultan.
During the briefing, Mr. Zhigalov discussed the development and prospects for cooperation between Kazakhstan and Spain, noting that the friendly relations and fruitful dialogue between the First President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev and King Juan Carlos I have continued with King Felipe VI, as demonstrated by the King's visit to Nur-Sultan in 2017 and his participation in the opening ceremony of the international 'EXPO 2017' exhibition. The Kazakh diplomat emphasized that July of this year marks the tenth anniversary of the signing of the 'Strategic Partnership Agreement between Kazakhstan and Spain'.
The Ambassador paid special attention to trade, economic and investment cooperation between the two nations. Spain is among the ten largest trading partners of Kazakhstan in terms of turnover, the volume of which increased by over 20% in 2018 and amounted to $2 billion, with exports grossing $1.8 billion and imports grossing $179 million. The gross inflow of direct investment from Spain to Kazakhstan in the period from 2005 to 2018 amounted to $205.5 million. Over 65 legal entities, branches and representative offices with Spanish involvement are registered in Kazakhstan, of which over 40 are in operation.
There is significant potential for further cooperation across the transport infrastructure, renewable energy, environment, agro-industry, biotechnology, pharmaceutical, construction, engineering, digital technologies, defense and aerospace, auto parts manufacturing, machinery, metalworking and electrical engineering sectors.
Additionally, the briefing's participants were informed about a number of notable Spanish companies who are implementing and planning to participate in various joint projects, including the construction of waste recycling plants in Kazakhstan, the light rail transit system in Almaty, renewable and traditional energies, oil and gas infrastructure, the development of a nationwide network of wholesale distribution centers, and the production of medical equipment.
At the initiative of First President Nazarbayev, measures have been taken to increase the efficiency of the Kazakh-Spanish Intergovernmental Commission (IGC) on economic and industrial cooperation, as well as the Kazakh-Spanish Business Council. Thus, the coordinating functions of the Business Council were transferred to “Baiterek” holdings last year, presenting new opportunities for cooperation. Last year, successful meetings of the IGC and the Business Council were held in Nur-Sultan, representing a significant step in the development of a legal framework for improving the business environments in the two countries. Bilateral documents on cooperation between the financial development institutions of Kazakhstan and Spain were signed, promoting co-investment across industrial and infrastructure projects, in addition to support for export operations.
On 19-20 March, a Kazakh delegation participated in a road show in Madrid led by Deputy Foreign Minister Ermek Kosherbayev. The road show included the Kazakh-Spanish business forum, of which about 80 Spanish companies participated, as well as a round table with members of the Spanish club of exporters and investors, which included companies and banks representing more than 20% of the country's GDP and 50% of foreign investments.
The political consultations held on 29 March in Madrid under the co-chairmanship of the Deputy Foreign Minister Roman Vassilenko also included discussions of economic affairs. In the consultations between the aviation authorities of Kazakhstan and Spain, the initial text of the intergovernmental agreement on air traffic was drawn up and a memorandum of cooperation, establishing the legal basis for opening direct flights between the nations, was signed.
Mr. Zhigalov further highlighted the importance of establishing cultural and humanitarian cooperation with Spain. Emphasis was placed on the Embassy's work in promoting various projects within the “Rukhani Zhangyru” modernization of national identity program, as well as the upcoming publication of two Spanish-language books: 'Anthologies of modern Kazakh poetry and prose' and First President Nazarbayev's 'Era of independence' book. Among the bilateral cultural events were the opening of the Center of Kazakh literature and art in 2018, the first concert of the Kurmangazy Kazakh State Academic Orchestra, a tour of the 'Astana Opera' state opera and ballet theatre in Valencia with the ballet 'Swan Lake' in 2018-2019, and the premiere of the 'Equus: A Story of a horse' documentary trilogy in April 2019, in addition to other events involving Kazakh citizens.
The Ambassador noted the cooperation of Kazakhstan with Andorra, specifically in the areas of ski tourism as well as with the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), of which he is Kazakhstan's Permanent Representative. The diplomat noted that in the Portuguese capital of Lisbon, Nur-Sultan's Mayor Bakhyt Sultanov presented Nur-Sultan at the Forum of Mayors of Cities and Ministers of Tourism of the UNWTO member countries as the venue of the 8th UNWTO Global Summit on Urban Tourism, to be held on 7-11 October 2019.
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