By Galiya Nurzhan
ASTANA, November 7 – The Kazakhstan-Spanish Business Council held its second meeting here on November 5 to promote bilateral economic cooperation.
Kazakh Deputy Minister of Industry and New Technologies Bakhytzhan Dzhaksaliyev, Business Council Co-Chairman and Samruk-Kazyna Sovereign Welfare Fund Managing Director Nurzhan Baydauletov, Member of Parliament Meyram Pshembayev, Spanish Confederation of Employers and Industries International Relations Commission Chairman Jesus Banegas, Business Council Co-Chairman and Talgo Director General José Maria de Oriol Fabra participated in the meeting with other prominent business leaders from both countries.
Samruk Kazyna’s Baydauletov told the gathering that relations between Kazakhstan and Spain were characterized by a high level of political cooperation and had a strategic nature.
Participants discussed ways to boost the investment of Spanish companies in Kazakhstan, especially in the fields of construction and engineering. They explored Spanish proposals for agreements to introduce automated railway control systems, and work on constructing new roads, and for increased cooperation with Kazakhtelecom.
“Unfortunately, investment cooperation between the two countries is at a low level,” Deputy Minister Dzhaksaliyev said. “From 1993 to June 30, 2012 the total amount of bilateral investment cooperation (between Spain and Kazakhstan) amounted to only $156 million. Spain takes 30th place in Kazakhstan’s rating among the main countries investing in our economy. The Ministry of Industry and New Technologies has, therefore, developed a joint action plan on economic cooperation between Kazakhstan and Spain, which we plan to sign during the forthcoming visit of Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy in 2013. Therefore, we suggest the Spanish companies make specific proposals to the (government of Kazakhstan’s) Road Map on the implementation of our national investment projects.”
The deputy minister said the government of Kazakhstan will work to expand its investment cooperation with Spain and to create favourable conditions for Spanish investors.
“The basis for strengthening relations between Kazakhstan and Spain should be the State Programme on Accelerated Industrial and Innovative Development, which determines the long-term development strategy of the country according to 20 priority areas of industry within Kazakhstan,” Dzhaksaliyev said. “Within the broader framework of Kazakh-Spanish relations, we will cooperate in the field of construction, infrastructure, alternative energy, information technology, marketing, light industry and tourism.”
Dzhaksaliyev said Spain was a global leader in renewable energy and its experience in this field would be of great importance for Kazakhstan.
Spain’s Banegas said his country now officially supported Astana’s bid to host EXPO 2017 with the vote at the BIE in Paris coming up later this month.
“In a few weeks, the city where EXPO 2017 will take place will be declared,” he said. “Astana’s bid is the favourite to win and it has official support from Spain. If Astana wins the bid, it will create great opportunities for joint (Kazakhstan-Spanish) projects. Spanish companies have considerable international experience in developing engineering designs in competitive markets and maintaining high quality standards and innovations.”
In 2011, bilateral trade between Spain and Kazakhstan reached $1,280 billion. In the first four months of 2012 bilateral trade reached $500 million. Some 30 Spanish-financed small and medium-sized businesses are currently registered in Kazakhstan.
The Kazakhstan-Spanish Business Council was established on June 17, 2011 during the visit of Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Zapatero to Kazakhstan.