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South Korea and Kazakhstan Embrace Closer Ties

In the Summit held between Kazakhstan and South Korea this week, the two countries resolved to promote bi-lateral trade, investment and technological cooperation. This was done to commemorate the upcoming 30 years completion of diplomatic ties between the two countries. The two sides decided to expand their strategic partnerships beyond conventional ways. During a press conference, the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan Qasym- Jomart Toqayev shared the number USD 4 Billion which projected the growing volume of the bilateral trade. 

The meeting between the two countries was held during Kazakh President’s visit to Seoul. A big delegation comprising of 22 government officials, businessmen, CEO of Baiterek and many high profile ministers participated in the meeting. The Korean side too boasted of a big delegation with 22 government officials and on similar lines was full of important ministers.

Amongst the things discussed, there were several important pointers that hinted a strong resolve to build on the already steady bilateral relationship. The Astana Times reported that Kazakhstan and South Korea signed a deal worth USD 1.7 billion during the two day visit. Kazakh President Toqayey acknowledged the presence of more than 550 Korean enterprises in Kazakhstan including Samsung, Hyundai, Lotte and so on. He also stated that 24 more projects were being worked upon. South Korean President Moon Jae-in proposed a potential joint research project focussed on the natural resources in Kazakhstan. 

The potential areas highlighted for trade and investments were digital and technological developments and collaborations for transformation of Kazakh economy, mechanical engineering opportunities, climate change,  and expansion of renewable energy. There are high hopes for economic cooperation between the two countries.

The depth in understanding between Seoul and Nur-Sultan was evident in the diplomatic exchanges between the two leaders as well as delegations. The Korea Herald reported how South Korean President Moon emphasised on efforts to “explore mutually beneficial growth by seeking energy with Korea’s New Deal policy and Kazakhstan’s 2025 national development plan”.   

Both the countries had launched a programme called “Fresh Wind” in 2019 that focussed on areas like progress in information technology, transportation and infrastructure. In the August 2021 summit, the two sides realised the importance of taking steps to advance the high technology areas, health care, as well as space industry. The old Fresh Wind programme was further brushed to include more areas.

The nuclear status of the Korean Peninsula is not unknown to anyone. Kazakh President spoke about his country’s journey of de-nuclearisation and offered to share experiences of the same. 

In a display of respect for each other, the Kazakh poet Abai Kunanbaiuly’s sculpture was installed at the Seoul Cyber University. The university has contributed to several arts and cultural exchanges between the two countries. 

Towards the end of the summit, the two leaders signed a joint statement that mentions a wide range commitment to bilateral ties and also highlights issues like the return of Hong Kong’s remains, the Korean peninsula peace process, and the nuances of the relationship between Korea and Central Asia.