Japan, one of Kazakhstan’s key strategic partners in East Asia, and Astana will implement seven joint projects worth approximately $2 billion in the areas of nuclear energy, transport and water supply, according to the Kazakh Minister for Investments and Development Zhenis Kassymbek.
“We have strategic and friendly relations between our countries. We see mutual interest and prospects for cooperation with Japan in areas such as petrochemicals, infrastructure, pharmaceuticals, energy, information technologies and innovations,” Astana Times quoted Kassymbek as saying.
“Since the first years of independence, Kazakhstan has focused on ensuring economic growth through the creation of favourable conditions for foreign investors. Japan is one of the largest investors in Kazakhstan,” Deputy Minister for Investment and Development Arystan Kabikenov said at the opening of the Kazakh-Japanese business forum held in Astana on June 27.
Of note, Kabikenow held the post of Counselor of the Kazakh Embassy in Japan from October 2016 until January 2018.
In his turn, Tadao Yanase, Vice-Minister for International Affairs of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry of Japan emphasised that Japanese companies are interested in investing in Kazakhstan.
A number of agreements on cooperation were signed at the event.
Saparbek Tuyakbayev, Kazakh Invest Chairman and Shigeru Yamazoe, Vice Chairman of Marubeni Corporation, the fifth-largest Japanese trading company, signed a memorandum on the development of urban transport in Almaty, the largest city in Kazakhstan.
“We are currently working on a light rail system in Almaty as part of the public-private partnership programme. In addition to construction, operation, maintenance and financing issues, we are working to create a digital infrastructure" Yamazoe said.
JSC KazCentre Housing, Mitsui & Company and Japan System Planning companies inked an agreement on pilot projects in heat and water supply systems while Kazakhstan Nuclear Power Plants, the Japan Atomic Power Company and Marubeni Utility Services signed a memorandum of cooperation in nuclear energy.
An agreement to promote and protect investments between the two countries has been in force since 2015 while to date ten joint large-scale projects worth more than $1.1 billion have been implemented.
As of May 1, more than 50 joint enterprises and 77 companies with the participation of Japanese companies were registered in Kazakhstan. From 2005 to 2017, the gross inflow of direct investments from Japan to the Central Asian country exceeded $5 billion, according to Kabikenov.
In the first quarter of 2018, trade between the countries reached $460.9 million, which is two times higher than in the same period of 2017. Last year, Kazakhstan exported to Japan ferroalloys and oil and petroleum products in the amount of $534.3 million and $339.4 million respectively. These two categories accounted for 98.6 percent of all exports to the Japanese market.
In terms of imports, Kazakhstan imported from Japan mainly automotive industry goods and special equipment including cars worth $164.4 million, special vehicles ($47.3 million), medical devices and equipment ($19.6 million), large road vehicles ($12.1 million) and tires ($11.7 million).
Japan-Kazakhstan relations have been developing steadily across both the political and economic fronts ever since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1992. The Embassy of Japan opened in Almaty in 1993, while the Embassy of Kazakhstan opened in Tokyo in 1996. The Embassy of Japan moved to Astana on 1 January 2005.