Energy and technology high on the agenda
On October 22-23, President Nazarbayev paid his fourth official visit to Austria since diplomatic relations were established between Austria and Kazakhstan in 1993.
President Nazarbayev held talks with Federal President of Austria Heinz Fischer, which led to the signing of several agreements, including one on international trucking and one on cooperation in the energy sphere between KazMunaiGas and Austria’s OMV.
Closer cooperation in the cultural sphere was also on the agenda, with the announcement that in 2013 Austria will host the Days of Kazakhstan Culture event.
President Fischer emphasized the strong ties between Austria and Kazakhstan and said the two countries would continue to support each other in the international arena. He thanked Kazakhstan for supporting Austria’s candidate to the UN Human Rights Committee and pledged Austria’s support for Kazakhstan’s candidacy to the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, adding that Austria is very positive in relation to Kazakhstan’s candidacy to host EXPO 2017.
Austria’s experience in the renewable energy sector is of particular interest to Kazakhstan, and the leaders announced plans for the transfer of advanced energy technologies from Austria to Kazakhstan. During his visit, President Nazarbayev also met with EU experts on scientific and technological innovation.
At the opening of the Kazakh-Austrian Business Forum, President Nazarbayev expressed his belief that the forum will provide a useful platform for dialogue between the two business communitities. He said that Kazakhstan’s focus on the development of export-oriented industries with high added value could open up further possibilities for cooperation, given Austria’s leading global position in the engineering sector.
The President urged Austria’s business community to avail of the opportunities arising in Kazakhstan as a result of the state program for industrial innovation. Over USD 70 billion is being invested within the program framework, of which USD 15 billion is set aside for the development of 400 new enterprises.
Bilateral trade between Kazakhstan and Austria amounted to over USD 4 billion in 2011, a 50% increase on the previous year. Kazakhstan supplies over 37% of the oil consumed in Austria and Austrian investors have entered the Kazakahstan market in increasing numbers. There are now more than 100 successful Austrian-Kazakh joint ventures in Kazakhstan. The principal areas of cooperation are mechanical engineering, telcommunications, education, healthcare and tourism and there are several ambitious joint projects in the pipeline.
While in Austria, President Nazarbayev also met members of the International Advisory Board, established in 2010 to promote Kazakhstan’s image internationally and give support and recommendations to the Government of Kazakhstan. The meeting covered a wide range of issues, including Kazakhstan’s relations with the EU and the development of the Common Economic Space and Customs Union.