Spain’s Top Diplomat Praises Kazakhstan’s Economic Potential

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ASTANA – Spain’s trade and economic relations with Kazakhstan have enormous room for development, and the Central Asian nation could well serve as a springboard for Spanish companies seeking to expand into the region of 170 million consumers.

Spain’s acting Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo on Monday wrapped up a two-day visit to Kazakhstan that was aimed at speeding up the profitable, but slowly developing business ties between the two nations.

After meetings Monday with Kazakh counterpart Erlan Idrissov, President Nursultan Nazarbayev and Prime Minister Karim Massimov, Spain’s top diplomat confirmed that relations between Astana and Madrid based on a strategic partnership accord signed in 2010 “are in excellent health.”


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Kazakhstan is “a reliable partner,” Garcia-Margallo summed up Monday at a business forum aimed at supporting Spanish companies already operating in Kazakhstan and promoting those that have shown interest in taking part in the country’s 2016-2020 privatization program or the multi-billion-dollar Nurly Zhol economic stimulus plan.

One of the visiting diplomat’s first stops was a tour on Sunday of the industrial facilities of the Spanish company Talgo’s Tulpar-Talgo factory in Astana.

He told reporters accompanying him on the visit that Spain had arrived “a bit late” to the region of Central Asia and specifically Kazakhstan, but stressed that Madrid was busy working to “make up for lost time at maximum speed.”

He described Tulpar-Talgo as “a major business success,” noting that since its opening in 2011 it has delivered 436 wagons with an income volume of 300 million euros ($337 million) and expects to deliver another 603 cars by 2020 with a maintenance contract worth of $1 billion.

The minister also sought to promote the presence of Spanish companies in some of the large infrastructure projects that Kazakhstan – which will host the Expo 2017 world fair, an event whose official theme is “Future Energy” – is planning to undertake.

Kazakhstan, one of the world’s largest oil and natural gas producers and the planet’s leading producer of uranium, “is Spain’s closest and most important partner in Central Asia,” Garcia-Margallo said, while Idrissov told a joint press conference that Spain “is one of our best partners in Europe.”

Several Spanish companies and financial institutions have a presence in Kazakhstan dating back many years.

Garcia-Margallo on Monday signed the document affirming Spain’s commitment to the Green Bridge Partnership Program, a sustainable development initiative launched by Kazakhstan during Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s official visit to Astana in September 2013.

In December of last year, the European Union and Kazakhstan signed the EU-Kazakhstan Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement, a new pact that will set the tone for future economic and political ties between the European bloc and the Central Asian nation.

That new agreement, signed on Dec. 21, 2015, replaced the EU-Kazakhstan Partnership and Cooperation Agreement that had been in force since 1999.

The Spanish diplomat also told Idrissov that Spain would support the start of negotiations with the European Commission for new visa rules that would lead to greater cooperation in education, science and technology.

Foreign Minister Idrissov said he also received from Garcia-Margallo Spain’s support for Kazakhstan’s bid to become a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council for 2017-2018.

Kazakhstan and Thailand are in the running for the non-permanent Security Council seat for the United Nations’s Asia-Pacific Group.

Elections for the 2017-2018 period are scheduled to be held in June at the UN General Assembly.

If elected, the Central Asian nation would become the first independent republic of the former Soviet Union to secure one of those seats.

Idrissov also confirmed that President Nazarbayev has formally invited Spain’s King Felipe VI to visit Kazakhstan.

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“We hope that this visit will take place within the framework of the international exhibition EXPO 2017,” which kicks off next summer in Astana, Idrissov said.

Garcia-Margallo is due to travel later Monday from Astana to Baku, Azerbaijan’s capital, where he is to attend the inauguration of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations Forum the following day before returning to Spain.

Imagen: Foto Archivo

El ministro español de Exteriores en funciones, José Manuel García-Margallo, afirmó hoy en Astaná que España es un "socio fiable" para Kazajistán y puso en valor la experiencia y liderazgo de las empresas españolas para los proyectos que serán puestos en marcha en este país de Asia Central.

García-Margallo pronunció estas palabras durante la inauguración del foro empresarial España-Kazajistán que se celebra hoy en Astaná, la capital del país centroasiático, al que asistió junto al ministro kazajo de Inversiones y Desarrollo, Asset Issekeshev.

Con el fin de apoyar la posición de las empresas españolas que ya operan en este país y de favorecer el inicio de actividades por parte de otras que han mostrado interés, el titular de Asuntos Exteriores destacó la posición estratégica de España como miembro de la UE, puente entre Europa y África y clave en América Latina.

Aseguró que las empresas españolas son líderes en energía, infraestructuras, transporte, medio ambiente, automoción y banca y que pueden aportar su experiencia a Kazajistán.

Puso como ejemplos de proyectos internacionales en los que participan empresas españolas el tren entre la Meca y Medina, el canal de Panamá, la nueva terminal del aeropuerto de Heathrow en Londres, el puerto de Mónaco o el metro de Lima.