Presidents Kassym-Jomart Tokayev and Emmanuel Macron attended the Kazakhstan-France Business Forum.
In his speech, the Head of State pointed out that this year Kazakhstan has registered economic growth of 4.7 per cent, with non-oil sectors showing the most significant progress. As it was said further, the strategic goal for Kazakhstan is to double the size of the national economy by 2029.
Kassym-Jomart Tokayev said that our country attaches special importance to attracting investment in the economy. The volume of foreign direct investment in Kazakhstan surpasses the combined investment volume of all other countries in the Central Asia.
The President noted the fruitful development of economic cooperation between Kazakhstan and France.
- Despite geopolitical turmoil, last year our bilateral trade increased by 30% – to 4 billion dollars. This positive trend continues this year. France is one of the largest international investors in our economy, injecting almost 19 billion dollars. In the first 6 months of this year, we recorded an impressive 50% increase in FDI to Kazakhstan from our French partners. This is a sign of high confidence in Kazakhstan, - said President.
The Head of State informed that our country is home to almost two hundred French companies, including Total Energies, Orano, Air Liquide in the energy sector, Airbus, Saint-Gobain in industry, Alstom in railways, and Lactalis and Danone in the agri-food sectors.
At the same time, the President outlined a number of promising areas for mutual cooperation. Among these priorities, in his opinion, is the energy sector. Kazakhstan remains one of the main suppliers of crude oil to the French market, and our country is ready to increase export volumes. In addition, as Kassym-Jomart Tokayev believes, there is also great potential in oil and gas geological exploration, uranium exports, and implementation of large projects in the field of wind, solar and hydro energy.
– Kazakhstan is the world’s top uranium producer, contributing over a quarter of nuclear fuel consumed in Europe. With nuclear power comprising 63% of France's energy sector, there is a vast potential for further cooperation. Our interests also converge on the goal of a net-zero carbon future. Just like France, Kazakhstan is a regional pioneer in this area. When it comes to renewable energy, a growing number of major international players are coming to pursue sizeable wind, solar and hydro projects. One of them is French Total Energies’ 1.3 billion dollar investment for the development of a 1 GW wind farm. There is enormous potential on green hydrogen as well. With the right partnerships, Kazakhstan can become a top-10 exporter. We look forward for more cooperation in this vital sector, whether it involves production, transfer of technology or expertise, - indicated Kazakh leader.
The extraction and processing of critical raw materials was identified as the next area of cooperation.
- As the global technological revolution progresses, demand for rare metals will grow exponentially. Broadly, demand is expected to quadruple by 2040, while the needs for lithium will grow by 10 times. Kazakhstan – with some 5,000 unexplored deposits valued at over 46 trillion dollars – can be a reliable partner to jointly develop that niche. Today we already produce 16 out of 30 rare earth materials critical for the EU economy, covering 70% of the European phosphorus market. We possess deposits for 9 more kinds that can be exploited with the necessary investment. We invite French companies to join this win-win partnership, - pointed out the Head of State.
According to Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, another priority area of cooperation could be the agro-food sector. It was noted that amid international food deficits, our country is aiming to double exports of agro-food products. The Head of State noted that our country is ready to provide comprehensive support to joint projects in the field of animal husbandry and crop production.
The transport and logistics industry was named as another relevant area for cooperation. The President pointed out that Kazakhstan is making additional efforts to develop the Trans-Caspian International Transport Route, or the so-called "Middle Corridor".
- It is not only the shortest but also the most viable route to secure supply chains between Europe and Asia. In anticipation of increasing volumes, we are actively working with our partners to modernize infrastructure with an annual goal of 10 million tons of cargo. Now, it is important to link these efforts with the Trans-European Transport Network and the EU "Global Gateway" initiative,- underscored Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.
The Head of State believes that there are great reserves for cooperation in the sphere of biotechnology and medicine. The national biopharma holding QazBioPharm has been established to develop the biotech cluster. Noting that many leading companies are planning to localise the production of medicines and medical equipment in Kazakhstan, the President called on French companies to cooperate in this matter.
In conclusion, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev pointed toward competitive features of the Astana International Financial Center (AIFC) in attracting investments.
- Today over 2,100 companies based in 78 countries work at AIFC, facilitating investment capital not only for Kazakhstan but also across the entire region. We would warmly welcome more French companies within AIFC and the opening of a first French bank in Kazakhstan. It would give a strong impetus to our investment and financial cooperation, - emphasized Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.
The President of France Emmanuel Macron also spoke at the event. In his welcoming remarks, the French leader praised Kazakhstan's goals of achieving carbon neutrality by 2060. He expressed readiness to support Kazakhstan in this direction. Emmanuel Macron noted that Kazakhstan is a connecting bridge between Europe and Asia. In his opinion, it is important to develop partnership through transport routes, primarily through the "Middle Corridor". Emmanuel Macron stressed that France is ready to contribute to the development of this transport route. The French leader noted the broad prospects for co-operation in the agro-food sector to ensure food security. In conclusion, Emmanuel Macron thanked Kassym-Jomart Tokayev for his willingness to co-operate in many areas of mutual interest.