16 мая 2024
Photo courtesy of the US diplomatic mission to Kazakhstan.

Deepening US-Kazakhstan Ties Through Trade and Infrastructure

A column by Arun Venkataraman, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Global Markets and Director General of the US and Foreign Commercial Service.

Deepening US-Kazakhstan Ties Through Trade and Infrastructure

The United States is proud to have established an enhanced strategic partnership with Kazakhstan built upon supporting sovereignty, strengthening security, and promoting prosperity in Central Asia. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s February 2023 visit to Astana, the historic C5+1 presidential summit in New York last September, and Foreign Minister Murat Nurtleu’s March 26 visit to Washington demonstrate Kazakhstan’s importance to the United States as a strategic partner in Central Asia and the wider world.

Trade is a crucial component of the US relationship with Kazakhstan. To this end, on May 16-17, our US Department of Commerce trade mission of nine US businesses will travel to Almaty looking to build partnerships with potential buyers and partners. The mission is a continuation of the Trade Winds Europe/Eurasia Trade Mission and Business Development Forum held in Istanbul, Turkey earlier this week.

US companies participating in the Kazakhstan portion of our trade mission represent some of the most innovative products and services the United States has to offer, in sectors ranging from the environment, healthcare, and mining to engineering, information technology, cybersecurity, energy, and more. Our mission participants look forward to learning more about Kazakhstan’s infrastructure modernization needs and exploring ways to assist.

In 2023, US-Kazakhstan total goods trade reached $3.4 billion, and the United States was among the earliest and continues to be one of the largest sources of foreign investment in Kazakhstan with tens of billions of dollars invested. Among the examples are major US oil and gas firms (Chevron and Exxon) that made vital contributions to Kazakhstan’s economy, and an American partnership that facilitated important improvements in Kazakhstan’s beef industry through the establishment of KazBeef. American companies in Kazakhstan have also brought world-class technology, safety standards, and workforce skills development to the local population.

The United States is also encouraged by the potential for partnerships in developing Kazakhstan’s critical mineral reserves which are important to the world’s green energy transition. And every year, about 30,000 Kazakhs travel to the United States, mostly for business and tourism, further broadening our investment and people-to-people ties, as Kazakhstan emerges as an up-and-coming destination for U.S. travelers. Such investment is mutually beneficial, and we look forward to hosting Kazakhstan’s business delegation to the Department of Commerce’s 2024 SelectUSA Investment Summit, June 23-26 in the Washington, DC area.

Kazakhstan is also emerging as a major transport and logistics hub in the region, and further developing the Trans-Caspian International Transport Route will greatly expand its trade with nearby countries, which collectively represent some 525 million potential consumers.

During our visit, our US delegation will engage in more than 50 one-on-one meetings with potential Kazakh buyers and partners. Mission participants will also participate in networking events with key Kazakh government and business decision-makers.

In both the United States and Kazakhstan, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) account for the vast majority of all businesses and are the engine of our respective economies. Most of the US companies on the mission are SMEs. For US mission participants and potential Kazakhstan partners alike, this trade mission offers the unique advantage of building longstanding, person-to-person relationships.

Increasing our commercial engagement and strengthening our partnership, especially at this critical time, is inextricably linked to advancing cooperation on wider issues and common challenges such as regional security, peacekeeping, and climate change - important priorities for securing our current and future generations.

I am enthusiastic about the prospects for building new trade relationships and deepening economic ties between the United States and Kazakhstan.

As we look to expand our trade relationship, we encourage all Kazakhstan businesses interested in finding US goods and services suppliers to work with our commercial and economic teams at the US Embassy in Astana and Consulate in Almaty. Now is the time to get down to business.

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Arun Venkataraman is Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Global Markets and Director General of the US and Foreign Commercial Service.