Kazakh-British relations


On 19 January 1992, diplomatic relations between Kazakhstan and the UK were established.

The British Embassy in Kazakhstan opened in October 1992.

Since February 1996, the Embassy of the Republic of Kazakhstan has operated in the UK.

Since February 2017, HE Mr Erlan Idrissov has been Ambassador of the Republic of Kazakhstan to the Court of St James's.

Since January 2018, HE Mr Michael Gifford has been the Ambassador of the United Kingdom in the Republic of Kazakhstan.

Political relations

Kazakhstan and the United Kingdom have established a constructive dialogue that is facilitated by regular visits at all levels.

Since the establishment of diplomatic relations, the President of Kazakhstan, HE Mr Nursultan Nazarbayev, made nine visits to the UK (1991, 1992, 1994, 1997, 2000, 2006, 2012, 2013 and 2015).

Members of the British royal family who have visited Kazakhstan include: heir to the British throne, Prince Charles of Wales (1996); Princess Anne (1993); the Duke of Gloucester (2000); Prince Andrew, former Special Representative for Trade and Investment (2003, 2006, 2007 and 2010); and Prince Michael of Kent (2009).

On 30 June – 1 July 2013, UK Prime Minister HE Mr David Cameron paid the first state visit in the history of bilateral relations, which resulted in a Joint Statement on the Strategic Partnership.

On 17 October 2014, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev held a meeting with UK Prime Minister David Cameron on the sidelines of the ASEM summit of European and Asian leaders in Milan, Italy.

On 22-24 February 2015, Mr Karim Massimov, the then Prime Minister of Kazakhstan, visited London. During his visit, Mr Massimov participated in the Global Law Summit and held a number of meetings with British ministers, political figures, and representatives from the business community.

On 2-4 November 2015, at the invitation of the British side, the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan HE Mr Nursultan Nazarbayev paid the first official visit to the UK in 10 years (apart from the visit during the 2012 Olympics). During the visit, the Kazakh President held bilateral meetings with the UK's top officials. The second meeting of the Kazakh-British Intergovernmental Commission took place, and bilateral agreements on the implementation of joint projects worth about $9 billion were signed.

On 4 September 2016, the first meeting of President Nazarbayev and the new UK Prime Minister Theresa May took place on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Hangzhou (China).

On 19 October 2018, President Nazarbayev met with the UK Prime Minister May on the sidelines of the Asia-Europe Meeting in Brussels.

On 17-18 April 2019, the UK Minister of State for Europe and the Americas Sir Alan Duncan visited the Republic of Kazakhstan and met with the heads of the chambers of Kazakhstan's Parliament, Government and Ministry of Foreign Affairs, confirming the course of strategic partnership between the countries during the change of leadership in the Republic of Kazakhstan.

Inter-parliamentary relations

The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Kazakhstan operates in the British Parliament chaired by Colonel Bob Stuart DSO MP. On 30 May – 2 June 2018, the APPG delegation headed by Colonel Stuart visited Kazakhstan and held a number of meetings with the leadership of the Mazhilis of the Parliament of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the head of Kazakhstan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the leaders of the NurOtan and Ak Zhol political parties.

On 25 February – 1 March 2019, Kazakhstan's parliamentarians paid a return visit. The delegation consisted of deputies of the Mazhilis Beibit Mamraev (head of the delegation), Zhambyl Akhmetbekov and Daniya Espaeva, as well as deputies of the Senate Yerbulat Mukaev and Ansar Musakhanov.

Trade and economic relations

Despite the slowdown in economic growth in the UK in recent years, there has been a steady development of bilateral economic relations.

Mutual trade in 2018 experienced a recession (-3.4%) amid general instability in global markets. Trade amounted to $1,244 million (exports: $784 million, imports: $459 million), while maintaining a stable trade surplus, but exports from Kazakhstan to Britain dropped by 18% (imports increased by 27%) .

The trade turnover between Kazakhstan and the United Kingdom in the first half of 2019 amounted to $662.3 million. Kazakhstan's exports to the UK in the first half of 2019 amounted to $439.1 million and increased by 8.5% compared to the first half of 2018. Imports from the UK totalled $223.2 million. Growth in the reporting period reached 1.6%.

Thus, the United Kingdom continues to be in the top ten largest trade partners of Kazakhstan in terms of trade turnover. It is also one of the six largest investors in Kazakhstan. Over the past 13 years, UK investment in Kazakhstan totalled more than $13 billion.

Primary export materials include non-ferrous metals; ferroalloys; chemical products; coal; crude oil and oil products; and cereals. Import materials include cranes; engines; industrial equipment; electrical equipment; optical and medical devices; medicines; aircraft and repair parts; steel structures; chemical products; and antiques.

More than 800 British legal entities are registered in Kazakhstan; 504 of them are active. The largest companies, like Royal Dutch Shell and Ernst&Young, are part of the Foreign Investors' Council under the President of Kazakhstan.

Trade and investment cooperation

On 23 October 2019, London hosted the Kazakhstan Global Investment Forum 2019 dedicated to Kazakhstan's business and investment opportunities, the prospects of cooperation in various sectors of the economy and the country's potential to become an important trading partner for the UK after Brexit. The Forum saw the signing of the Memorandum of Cooperation between the QazIndustry Kazakhstan Industry and Export Centre and International Development Ireland Ltd on the assistance in attracting Irish investment projects worth at least 50 billion tenge to the territory of Kazakhstan's special economic and industrial zones and the Memorandum of Cooperation between the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Kazakhstan and the Gap Insaat company on the construction of a 350-bed hospital in Aktau using the financing provided by UK Export Finance.

On 23 October 2019, in together with the investment forum, London hosted the 3rd meeting of the Kazakh-British Business Council, during which the Samruk-Kazyna National Welfare Fund signed an Agreement on the Basic Conditions for the Creation of a New Technology Fund with Da Vinci Capital, as well as an agreement on co-investment of projects in the field of renewable energy with EDP Renovaveis.

On 24 October 2019, the Kazakhstan in Focus Day forum was organised in London by Astana International Exchange (AIX), the AIFC exchange. The forum attendees included leading Kazakh companies, as well as more than 30 major international investors.

In addition, the 6th meeting of the Kazakh-British Intergovernmental Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientific, Technical and Cultural Cooperation (IGC) was held in London on 24 October 2019 under the co-chairmanship of the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan Roman Vassilenko and the UK Minister of State for International Trade Conor Burns MP.

The IGC included meetings of working groups on oil and gas, mining, healthcare, education and financial services. The meeting also included the signing of a number of bilateral documents in the field of trade and investment cooperation.

Cultural and humanitarian co-operation

The Kazakh-British Technical University has been operating in Almaty since 2001. The university partners with leading UK universities.

With the support of University College London, Nazarbayev University has been implementing a university education preparation programme, as well as a project on creating the School of Engineering.

Currently, more than 300 Kazakh students are studying at UK universities as part of the Bolashak scholarship programme.

In September 2019, as part of the implementation of the Rukhani Zhangyru programme, the National Bureau of Translations and Cambridge University Press, with the support of the Embassy of Kazakhstan in the UK, published the Anthologies of Kazakh poetry and prose. The translation of the collections of Kazakh literature was carried out with the participation of experienced British literary translation experts.

Created at : 15.01.2019, 11:50, Updated at : 9.01.2020, 11:50