Benelux and Kazakhstan: An overview of trade relations and investment prospects

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Photo by: Gov

The first meeting in the format of trade negotiations between Benelux and Kazakhstan took place on February 15, 2024, at Nazarbayev University. Participants presented an overview of the results of trade turnover between the EU countries and discussed future prospects for the development of trade and investments, DKNews.kz reports.

The event was organized by "QazTrade" Trade Policy Development Center and the Chamber of Commerce of the Benelux region. The joint initiative of the partners to strengthen cooperation and expand trade interaction received a broad response from government and business representatives. Guests included ambassadors from the Kingdom of Belgium and the Kingdom of Netherlands, KazakhExport, representatives from the business sector, researchers and members of academia from Nazarbayev University Graduate School of Business.

As noted by Denis Van den Weghe, president of the BeNeLux Chamber of Commerce, Kazakhstan, as the economic leader of the Central Asian region, seeks to contribute to the recovery and improvement of global trade. In 2015, an Agreement on Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation was signed between Kazakhstan and the European Union. These agreements positively impacted the strengthening of bilateral relations, reflected in the expansion of export-import shipments.

In 2023, the total trade volume between Kazakhstan and EU countries reached $41.4 billion, a 3.5% increase compared to the same period in 2022. Kazakhstan's exports to the European market slightly decreased to $31 billion, while imports to Kazakhstan increased to $10.4 billion. Belgium and the Netherlands, members of the Benelux, are key trading partners of Kazakhstan in the EU, accounting for the majority of investments.

According to Denis Van den Weih, Kazakhstan possesses good potential for trade expansion, necessary resources, and a strategic location. The development of the Trans-Caspian transit route could play a significant role in this process. The Middle Corridor, in the future, could become a viable alternative to the Northern Corridor in the context of supply chain restructuring, benefiting Kazakhstan, Benelux countries, and the EU.

Ambassador of the Kingdom of Belgium in Kazakhstan, Henri Vantieghem, highlighted Kazakhstan's significant opportunities in developing trade flows through the Middle Corridor, emphasizing the ease of transportation connections to the Benelux region and other European countries.

The successful development of the Middle Corridor will help Kazakhstan increase exports in metallurgical, chemical, machinery, construction, and pharmaceutical industries, with a potential export growth to the EU of $2.3 billion. In turn, EU and Benelux countries will be able to expedite their goods to Kazakhstan through the optimization of processes along the Middle Corridor.

On their part, the Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Kazakhstan, Nico Schermers, emphasized the importance of a stable legal system, transparency, and unified norms and standards to ensure smooth trade. This will contribute to attracting additional businesses and boost the momentum of export-import shipments.

During the trade panel session between Kazakhstan and the Benelux countries, Ainur Amirbekova, the Director of the Department of International Integration at "QazTrade" Center for Trade Policy Development, discussed measures of government support for non-commodity exporters. Currently, in Kazakhstan, while strictly adhering to WTO legislation, non-commodity exporters and producers affiliated with QazTrade of the Ministry of Trade and Integration receive non-financial and service support measures. Specifically, there are programs for export promotion and introducing Kazakhstani manufacturers to international marketplaces. Trade and economic missions are organized for promising exporters to priority countries to showcase goods and services and seek new partners. Through the export credit agency KazakhExport, Kazakh enterprises have access to financial support instruments, including export financing.

In conclusion, the meeting participants reached the consensus that to develop relations between the Benelux region and Kazakhstan, it is necessary to diversify trade flows between our countries. This will lead to an increase in the export of goods and services, benefiting all parties involved. Additionally, Kazakhstan is interested in expanding its partnership with the Benelux countries and is ready to collaborate in the fields of technology, research, and innovation to exchange expertise, implement joint projects, and develop new industries.

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