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Kazakhstan and Singapore seek new economic opportunities

Kazakhstan’s Deputy Prime Minister Mukhtar Tileuberdi called on Singapore President Halimah Yacob at the Istana on Aug 16, 2022.

Singapore and Kazakhstan explored new economic opportunities when a Kazakhstan high-level delegation led by Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Mukhtar Tileuberdi visited Singapore from from August 15 to 16.

They discussed new markets and export routes, reported the Kazakh Foreign Ministry.

Singapore President Halimah Yacob encouraged Kazakh companies to consider Singapore as a hub to engage South East Asia and welcomed a proposed state visit by President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.

During her meeting with Mr Tileuberdi at the Istana on August 16, President Halima reaffirmed the warm ties and the continuing high-level political dialogues between the two countries and noted that next year will mark 30 years of diplomatic ties between Singapore and Kazakhstan.

The two leaders discussed ways to strengthen bilateral relations. Mr Tileuberdi spoke in detail about the new political and economic reforms being implemented in Kazakhstan.

“Singapore and Kazakhstan share excellent bilateral ties at the highest levels and we look forward to closer bilateral collaboration,”  wrote President Halima on her Facebook page following the meeting. “We also shared a common perspective on the importance of inter-faith and inter-religious harmony in our societies. Singapore and Kazakhstan will commemorate the 30th anniversary of diplomatic ties next year. I look forward to hosting Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev on a state visit in the future.”

She commended Kazakhstan’s efforts to ensure peace, security and stability in Asia and the promotion of global interfaith dialogue through the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA), scheduled for October 12-13, and the Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions, which will be held from September 14 to 15 in Nur-Sultan.

On the same day, Mr Tileuberdi met Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Lawrence Wong. They discussed cooperation in transport, trade, economic and investment.

Kazakhstan’s Deputy Prime Minister Mukhtar Tileuberdi (left) meets Singapore Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong on Aug 16, 2022.

The focus was on potential projects aimed at expanding the transit potential of Kazakhstan and boosting bilateral cooperation in the manufacturing industry, information and communication technologies, construction and finance.

The volume of trade Between Kazakhstan and Singapore surpassed US$1 billion in 2021, with the countries expecting a threefold increase in 2022. Bilateral trade reached US$926 million in the first half of the year.

They also discussed potential areas for cooperation, including the progress made on negotiations on the bilateral Services and Investment Agreement under the framework of the Eurasian Economic Union-Singapore Free Trade Agreement.

When concluded, the agreement would further boost economic links between Singapore and Kazakhstan.

The Kazakhstan-Singapore Business Council, launched during the visit, is designed to facilitate commerce, investment and tourism ties between the two countries.

In another meetingm with Singapore’s Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, Mr Tileuberdi noted the potential for further growth in Singapore-Kazakhstan relations.

Kazakhstan’s Deputy Prime Minister Mukhtar Tileuberdi (left) meets Singapore Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan on Aug 15, 2022.

They discussed ways to promote bilateral cooperation and explored opportunities in South-east Asia and Central Asia, including in supply chain connectivity.

They had a wide-ranging discussion on global and regional developments, as well as the importance of upholding the territorial integrity, sovereignty and political independence of all countries.

They welcomed the successful economic ventures ranging from urban planning to logistics, digital innovation, food and beverage, e-governance and capacity building made by Singapore companies in Kazakhstan.

The Kazakh delegation also included Minister of Industry and Infrastructure Development Kairbek Uskenbayev, Astana International Financial Centre Governor Kairat Kelimbetov, Chair of Kazakhstan Temir Zholy national railways Nurlan Sauranbayev and Chair of Kazakh Invest Meirzhan Yussupov.

On August 16, the delegation met top executives of Singaporean companies with the aim to deepen economic cooperation and implement joint projects. Many Singaporean companies are keen to tap Kazakhstan’s market and investment opportunities.

One of the key projects they discussed was the G4 City, the construction and development of satellite cities on the northern border of Almaty. It is being implemented along with Surbana Jurong, a Singapore government-owned company specialising in infrastructure and urban development.

The metropolis will be located along the Almaty–Kapshagai highway and will consist of four districts: Gate – business and financial hub; Golden – knowledge and medical hub; Growing – industrial and logistics hub; and Green – tourism and entertainment hub. G4 City is expected to receive the status of a special economic zone.

Kazakhstan Temir Zholy signed a memorandum of cooperation with the Port of Singapore Authority, one of the flagship terminals of PSA International, a global group with port projects in Asia, Europe and the Americas. In Singapore alone, PSA operates 53 berths with a designed capacity of 50 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) yearly at its container terminals in Tanjong Pagar, Keppel, Brani and Pasir Panjang.

“The involvement of PSA International in the management of transport and logistics hubs in Kazakhstan is designed to promote access to a whole network of seaports on both sides of the continent, integration into the global transport and logistics chain, using multimodal transport and introduction of innovative technologies and best world practices in the management of dry ports and, most importantly, to significantly simplify the export of products from Kazakhstan to the world markets,” said the Kazakh Foreign Ministry in a statement.

Digital transformation is another promising area for cooeparation between Kazakhstan and Singapore, which is a hotbed of startups and innovation activities and considered Southeast Asia’s Silicon Valley.

One of the major projects in this area is the Kazakhstan Digital Accelerator, which was launched in 2020 by Quest Ventures, a top Singaporean venture capital firm, and QazTech Ventures, a subsidiary of Kazakhstan’s Baiterek National Holding. This is meant to support startups in Kazakhstan and drive the Central Asia innovation ecosystem forward through a comprehensive programme and seed funding.

The programme has so far had three cohorts, with more than 300 applications, 39 projects accepted and 30 of them receiving investments of up to US$50,000.

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