Cooperation agreements to be amended
On November 9-10 the Prime Minister of the Republic of Belarus, Mikhail Myasnovich, paid his first official visit to Kazakhstan. He met with Prime Minister Serik Akhmetov to discuss bilateral cooperation and trade development and the meeting concluded with a commitment by the two sides amend existing cooperation agreements between them in the areas of tax compliance and the forestry sector.
Relations between Belarus and Kazakhstan have gone from strength to strength in recent years. In his greeting to President Nazarbayev in September, to mark the 20th anniversary of diplomatic relations, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko described the countries as “strategic partners and allies”. He drew parallels between the experiences of the two nations in establishing statehood, strengthening sovereignty and improving the living standards of their citizens. Praising the strong bilateral cooperation that exists on many fronts, President Lukashenko expressed the hope that it will develop further within the framework of the Customs Union and the Single Economic Space.
The Eurasian Customs Union set up in 2007 between Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia has gained considerable traction over the last two years. The introduction of a common customs territory in 2010 and the elimination of internal physical borders in 2011 were followed in January 2012 by the launch of the Single Economic Space. In July 2012 the Eurasian Economic Commission took over as the coordinating institution with responsibility for achieving the agreed objective of a Eurasian Economic Union (ECU) by January 1 2015. The ECU now has a solid institutional framework, a proven commitment to implementation and a system of rules harmonized with international norms and the WTO regime.
Total trade turnover between Belarus and Kazakhstan amounted to USD 769 million in 2011 and in the first six months of 2012 trade reached USD 479 million, an increase of 116% on the comparable 2011 period. Exports from Kazakhstan to Belarus are primarily in crude aluminium, copper scrap, trucks, oil products, electric accumulators, phosphor salt and wheat; major exports from Belarus to Kazakhstan include threshing equipment, frozen beef products, milk whey, tractors and special-purpose vehicles. The geographic location of the two countries positions each as an important trade gateway for the other, with Belarus offering a route to Europe for Kazakhstan, while Kazakhstan provides Belarus with access to the markets of China and Southeast Asia.
Investment by Belarusian companies in Kazakhstan is also on the increase. Twelve joint assembly plants use Belarusian mechanical engineering to produce agricultural machinery in Kazakhstan, while a further 13 joint projects are being implemented, seven of them with support from Kazakhstan’s state development programs. In 2011 investment inflows to Kazakhstan from Belarus amounted to USD 73m.
A number of other meetings were also held during the visit of Prime Minister Myasnovich and his accompanying delegation, including the ninth session of the Kazakh-Belarusian intergovernmental commission on trade and economic cooperation, the second session of the Kazakh-Belarusian business forum and the first meeting of the Business Council on cooperation between the Chambers of Commerce of the two countries.