First official visit by President to Prague
On October 23-24 President Nazarbayev made his first official visit to the Czech Republic since diplomatic relations were established in 1992.
The President met with his Czech counterpart Vaclav Klaus and Prime Minister Petr Necas in Prague to discuss the development of Kazakhstan-Czech relations as well as opportunities for mutually beneficial cooperation in the economic, scientific, cultural and humanitarian spheres.
At a Kazakh-Czech Business Forum in Vienna the following day, agreements were signed on commercial projects worth over USD 250 million. President Nazarbayev said that the projects would further stimulate trade between the two countries, which has considerable potential for further growth.
President Nazarbayev highlighted the complementary economic strengths of the two countries, Kazakhstan’s resources providing a good match with the technological and engineering capabilities of Czech companies. He encouraged the well-developed small and medium Czech business sector to establish direct contact with their counterparts in Kazakhstan, many of whom are seeking to expand with the benefit of funding from the state program for industrial innovation.
The dynamic growth of Kazakhstan’s economy, which saw GDP increase by 7.5 per cent in 2011 and the ambitious state targets of a 50% growth in GDP from 2008 – 2015, along with an increase to 40% in the level of total exports comprised of non-oil products, will provide many more opportunities for Czech companies with expertise and technology to offer, the President said.
He described an economic hub comprised of Kazakhstan, Russia and Belarus, forming a Customs Union market with almost 170 million people, within which trade barriers will be eliminated, transit cargo costs minimized and access to infrastructure simplified. The President encouraged the active participation of Czech business in the implementation of these ambitious plans for the industrial modernization of Kazakhstan.
In 2011 Kazakh-Czech bilateral trade amounted to USD211.7 million, of which USD48.4 million comprised Kazakh exports and USD163.3 million imports from the Czech Republic. In January-August 2012 bilateral turnover reached USD 208.3 million, a 38 per cent increase on the comparable 2011 period.
Direct investment by Czech companies in Kazakhstan amounted to over USD 220 million between 1994 and March 31, 2012. There are now 76 Czech-funded companies operating in Kazakhstan, along with 20 representative offices of Czech companies. The Czech government included Kazakhstan in its 2009 list of the 12 most important prospective trade partners for the Czech Republic. Trade links between the two countries are facilitated by direct flights between Almaty and Prague.