KAZAKHSTAN IN BRIEF
Kazakhstan is an ethnically diverse republic, which gained independence from the former Soviet Union on December 16, 1991. Roughly Russia, China, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and the Caspian Sea in the west surround the size of Western Europe, Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan has been at the crossroads of trade and empires for centuries along the ancient Silk Road. By 2015, Kazakhstan expects to be one of the top ten oil producers and exporters in the world, with reserves comparable to Kuwait’s. The economy is being diversified beyond dependence on these vast reserves.
In the first few years after independence, Kazakhstan successfully rid itself of the fourth largest nuclear arsenal in the world and closed the world’s largest nuclear test site at Semipalatinsk, an unwanted legacy from the USSR, and continues to be a model for the global community. In 2005, the U.S. Senate unanimously adopted a resolution congratulating Kazakhstan on the 10th anniversary of the removal of all nuclear weapons from the country and commended Kazakhstan U.S. cooperation in this sphere as a “model”.
Kazakhstan plays an important role in securing the stability of the volatile Central Asian region and beyond. Kazakhstan initiated the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA), whose members are 17 Asian nations, such as Afghanistan, China, India, Iran, Israel, Pakistan, and Russia, with the primary goal of establishing a comprehensive security system in Eurasia. Such a system never existed before. In June 2002, at the peak of Indo-Pakistani and Israeli-Palestinian tensions, the leaders of these countries met in Almaty for the first summit of CICA. These meetings contributed to the reduction of tensions.
Kazakhstan condemned terrorist attacks against the U.S. on Sept. 11, 2001 and has been a staunch supporter of the U.S. led international coalition against global terrorism since. Kazakhstan provides free over flight rights and a major international airport for U.S. and coalition aircraft for operations in Afghanistan. Kazakhstan works with the international community to bring peace and stability to Iraq following the U.S. led campaign to end Saddam Hussein’s regime. Kazakh military engineers in that country have destroyed more than four million pieces of ordnance since 2003.
During his 2001 visit to Washington President Nazarbayev and President George W. Bush signed a Joint Statement declaring their “commitment to strengthen the long-term, strategic partnership and cooperation between our nations, seeking to advance a shared vision of a peaceful, prosperous and sovereign Kazakhstan in the 21st Century”.
On a visit to Astana in 2005, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said, “Today, Kazakhstan is poised and ready to break a path for a new Silk Road, a great corridor of reform… A strong and prosperous and democratic Kazakhstan will once again energize the global transmission of learning, and trade and freedom across the steppes of Central Asia. This nation has a glorious past and it is destined for a hopeful future. Kazakhstan’s greatest days lie ahead of it. And the United States wants to be your partner.”
On July 8-10, 2013 Kazakhstani Foreign Minister Erlan Idrissov paid an official visit to the United States and held meetings with Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz, National Security Adviser Susan Rice, Deputy National Security Adviser Anthony Blinken, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman, and Deputy Secretary of State William Burns. In his talks with high-ranking U.S. officials the two sides highlighted the robust and growing bilateral ties between Kazakhstan and the United States and reaffirmed their commitment to further deepen the strategic partnership. It was agreed that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Kazakhstan Foreign Minister Erlan Idrissov will co-chair the Strategic Partnership Dialogue.
On September 26-29, 2006, during the visit of President of the Republic of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev to Washington the he and then President George W. Bush adopted a Joint Statement, which defined further prospects for the Kazakhstan-American relations, including strengthening of the strategic partnership through the intensification of strategic dialogues on energy, military cooperation, trade, investment and democratization. The document declares the US support for Kazakhstan’s accession to the WTO and excluding Kazakhstan from the Jackson–Vanik amendment.
On November 14, 2008, just after the election of President Barack Obama made introductory calls to the leaders of key allies, including the President Nazarbayev. During the phone conversation the heads of both states discussed the current bilateral strategic partnership and the prospects for future areas of expanded cooperation. Among other things, President Obama expressed interest in visiting Kazakhstan in the near future.
On April 11-14, 2010, the President of Kazakhstan made an official visit to the United States as to participate in the Nuclear Security Summit. While in Washington, President Nazarbayev held meetings with President Obama, Secretary of Energy Chu, the heads of Jewish organizations and major American corporations.
During the meeting between the two leaders, agreement was reached on the further strengthening of the strategic partnership between Kazakhstan and the United States, discussed issues of global security, including nuclear non-proliferation and stabilization in Afghanistan, the promotion of democracy, trade and economic cooperation and Kazakhstan’s Chairmanship of the OSCE.
As a result of the visit to the United States, the two sides adopted a Joint Statement, signed the Agreement for Scientific and Technical Cooperation as well as a Memorandum of Understanding between Kazakhstan’s Temir Zholy and General Electric regarding switches for CIS countries.
On November 30 – December 2, 2010, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Astana as the Head of the American delegation to the OSCE Summit. It was her second visit to Kazakhstan; her first was in 1997 as First Lady. As part of her visit, the American diplomat held meetings with President Nazarbayev and OSCE Chairman-in-Office and Kazakh Minister of Foreign Affairs Saudabayev. Secretary Clinton thanked the Government of Kazakhstan and the people of the country for the extended warm welcome and hospitality.
Prior to the OSCE Summit, Secretary Clinton spoke in public at the Gumilyov Eurasian National University and met with the civil society representatives of Kazakhstan, including female NGOs, as well as the students and graduates of the Bolashak scholarship program. During her visit there, Clinton noted that “the people of Kazakhstan should appreciate and be proud of what the country has achieved in such a short period of its independence.”
On September 22, 2011, in a visit to New-York for the UN General Assembly, President Nazarbayev met again with President Obama. The two leaders discussed issues of the bilateral relations, nuclear security, fight against terrorism, etc. In addition, within the framework of the UN Session, the Foreign Ministers of the United States, Germany and Afghanistan held a briefing entitled “The New Silk Road,” – a U.S. initiative to create a regional economic and transport network connecting South and Central Asia with Afghanistan. Kazakhstan expressed support for the plan and will be a central player in its implementation.
On October 12-13, 2011, the Kazakh cities of Astana and Semey hosted the International Forum for Nuclear-Free World, which was dedicated to the 20th anniversary of the closure of the Semipalatinsk test site. The United States was represented at the Forum by Deputy Secretary of Energy Poneman and Sam Brownback, the Governor of the state of Kansas. At the conclusion of the Forum, the participants adopted Joint Declaration, which confirmed the importance of fulfilling the obligations by all Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). The Declaration also noted the need to hold negotiations on further steps leading to global nuclear disarmament, to which all the NPT participating states are committed, including the reduction of nuclear armaments of all types.
On January 30 – February 1, 2012, Kazakhstan’s newly appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs, Yerzhan Kazykhanov, made his first official visit to the United States.
On February 1, 2012, during bilateral negotiations with U.S. State Secretary Clinton, the two sides discussed the entire cooperation package in political, trade-economical and cultural-humanitarian fields. In addition, they gave a great attention to ensuring energy and food security, the diversification of Kazakhstan’s economy through the development of scientific and technical cooperation. The United States also shared its intention to be one of the largest investors and trade partners of Kazakhstan.
During the visit, the two sides also achieved an agreement on granting 5-year Visas and unifying the fees to obtain them. These Agreements will streamline visa procedures for tourists, businessmen, diplomats, students and other categories of citizens, considerably.
Foreign Minister Kazykhanov also held a number of important meetings with leaders from the United States Congress, as well as with the members of the US-Kazakhstan Business Association.
Also timed to coincide with the visit was the release of “Kazakhstan: Surprises and Stereotypes After 20 Years of Independence,” a book by British writer Jonathan Aitken.
On March 26, 2012, President Nazarbayev and President Obama held a meeting within the framework of the Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul.
The two leaders exchanged opinions on the nuclear security cooperation, non-proliferation and disarmament, as well as the Kazakhstan’s prospects for the accession to WTO.
President Nazarbayev called upon his American partners to more actively participate in the Forced Industrial and Innovative Development Program, an initiative to encourage cooperation in the fields of small and medium businesses, innovative, scientific and technological areas. In particular, he emphasized the importance of Kazakhstan’s transit potential for the development of international trade.
President Obama welcomed “the outcomes of last elections, which led to the formation of a multiparty Parliament in Kazakhstan,” and highlighted “the deep trust of Kazakhstani people to their Leader.”
The annual Kazakhstan-American political consultations continue to play an important role in the strengthening of bilateral relations. In 2012, the sides decided to increase the level of bilateral political consultations up to the Kazakhstan-American Strategic Partnership Commission.
In September, 2010, during the first consultation meetings, the U.S. State Department recognized that “Kazakhstan is the only country in Central Asia to have such an extensive and ambitious agenda of bilateral cooperation with the United States. The mechanism of bilateral consultations shows its efficiency and promotes further expansion and improvement of the Kazakhstan-American dialogue’. The second consultations meeting took place in Astana on March 24-25, 2011.
On April 9-10, 2012, the first meeting of the Kazakhstan-American Strategic Partnership Commission took place in Washington. Held in the form of a working group meeting, the commission covered the following areas: “Political Affairs and Security”, “Democracy and Human Rights”, “Economic and Social Development” and “Energy”.
The Commission’s work included three parallel “tracks”: the first meeting of the Kazakhstan-American Working Group on Scientific and Technical Cooperation; a road show “Kazakhstan Is An Attractive Investment Environment for American Business”, organized by National Export and Investment Agency KAZNEX-INVEST; as well as the NGO forum with the participation of representatives of the Helsinki Commission and 15 U.S. human rights organizations.
In 2008, the Friends of Kazakhstan Congressional Caucus (informal initiative group), headed by Congressman Aderholt (R-4th-AL) was established.
In 2012, a Group for Cooperation with the United States headed by Member of the Committee of Social-Culture Development Isimbayeva was established in the Kazakh Mazhilis (lower house of parliament).
A U.S. Congressional delegation headed by Chairman of the Subcommittee for Europe and Eurasia of the U.S. Committee on Foreign Relations, Dan Burton visited Astana at the beginning of July. The group of lawmakers was received by President Nursultan Nazarbayev and Minister Yerzhan Kazykhanov. They also met with the Chairman of the Kazakh Senate (upper house of the parliament) Kairat Mami, Speaker of the Mazhilis (lower house of parliament) Nurlan Nigmatulin, Prime Minister Karim Massimov and other senior government officials.
DEFENSE AND SECURITY
The basis for the Kazakh-US military and defense cooperation are laid out in the “Memorandum of Mutual Understanding and Cooperation in the field of Defense and Military Relations between the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Kazakhstan and the United States Department of Defense,” February 14, 1994 and the “Memorandum of Consent on Mutual Intent to Implement the Five-Year Military Cooperation Plan 2008-2012 between the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Kazakhstan and the United States Department of Defense” of February 1, 2008. The plans cover the area of strengthening the fighting and peacekeeping capacities of Kazbat, airmobile forces, naval forces, as well as the development of military infrastructure in the Caspian region.
The American side carries out the following assistance programs: “Foreign Military Financing” (FMF); “International Military Education and Training” (IMET), “Counterterrorism” (CT), etc.
The military cooperation with the United States is developing within the framework of the NATO Individual Partnership Action Plan (IPAP), which is concluded with the NATO non-member countries like Kaza_hstan. Kazakhstan also cooperates with the NATO within the Partnership for Peace (PfP) program and the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC).
TRADE AND ECONOMIC COOPERATION
The United States is one of the largest and fastest-growing trade partners of Kazakhstan. In 2011, the trade turnover volume between Kazakhstan and the US amounted to $2.743 billion, an increase of 26% as compared to the previous year ($2.181 billion).
The exports volume of the general trade turnover amounted to $1.029 billion, that is 18 % more than at the same period of 2010 ($868 million). Oil products, steel products, minerals and chemical products have become the main articles of Kazakhstan’s export to the United States.
The volume of imports was $1.714 billion, which is 30 % more than at the same period of 2010 ($1.313 billion). The imports basis was made by agricultural products and equipment, electronics, transport equipment, chemical products, metal goods, food, etc.
This year, from January-March 2012, the trade turnover amounted to $572 million (exports –$149.3 million, imports – $442.6 million). An increase of 51% compared to the same period in 2011 ($377 million). Including exports brings the total to $164 million, imports – 213 million).
Since 1993, the volume of gross inflow of the U.S. direct investments to Kazakhstan has amounted to more than $22 billion ($1.039 billion in 2011). The basic sectors of the US investment are mining, real estate operations, rent and services for enterprises, transport and communication, trade, repair services, electric energy, gas and water production and distribution.
Since 2006, Kazakhstan has implemented the Economic Development Program jointly with the U.S. Government. Upon the Kazakhstan’s initiative, the Program has been prolonged until 2012. According to new terms, during 2010-2012 the Kazakh Government will allocate $9 million, ($3 million each year) for implementation of the Program. The purpose of this Program is to promote diversification of Kazakhstan’s economy, increase the economy competitiveness, including businessmen, and achieve sustainable economic growth.
The initiative on the convergence of private sectors of the RK and the US is closely connected with the energy partnership and the development of oil and gas sector.
The United States pays great attention to energy cooperation. The leading positions in Kazakhstan’s market are held by such American companies as Chevron, Texaco, Exxon Mobil, ConocoPhillips, and Kerr-McGee/Oryx. The presence of American companies is practically seen in all large projects, such as Tenghizchevroil (TCO), AGIP KCO, Caspian Pipeline Consortium, Karachaganak Integrated Organization, etc.
With more than 20% of oil production in the country, TCO is the largest oil and gas extraction company in Kazakhstan. . Altogether, from 1993 to 2009, more than 177.9 million tons of oil were extracted. Since the TCO’s establishment, the amount of taxes and royalties paid to Kazakhstan’s state budget has exceeded $43 billion.
The Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA), is an important initiative to foster the development of relations between the USA, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan.). Since its signing in Washington in June of 2004, a total of 6 meetings of the TIFA Council have been held.
Since March 2002, the Joint Kazakhstan-American Energy Partnership Commission (JEPC) has operated under the chairmanship of Kazakh Minister of Oil and Gas Mynbayev and U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy Poneman. On October 12-13, 2011, the 8th JEPC Meeting took place in Astana on the sidelines of the International Forum for a Nuclear Weapon-free World
During the meeting, the two sides achieved concrete results on the implementation of April (2010) arrangements of both leaders on cooperation in the field of agriculture. It is planned to create a number of Kazakhstan-American joint ventures, including feeding complexes for livestock that have the production capacity to feed 5 thousand heads of cattle.
As a result of the visit of Minister of Economic Integration Affairs Aitzhanova to Washington on September 13-21, 2011, the U.S. and Kazakhstan completed seven-years of negotiations regarding Kazakhstan’s pending accession to the WTO.
The Kazakhstan-American Investment Forum in New York had a positive influence on the business ties between the two countries as well. The 4th Forum (December 7, 2011) was entitled “Samruk-Kazyna: Development of Strategic Industries for the Economy of Kazakhstan.”