UAE Steps Up Investments in Central Asia’s Largest Economy

Kazakhstan and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have signed a series of trade deals under which the two countries will implement investment projects worth US$900 million.

The documents, which aim to strengthen cooperation in numerous economic sectors, were signed this week during the visit of Kazakh Prime Minister Alikhan Smailov to Abu Dhabi.

“The government of Kazakhstan continues to improve the investment climate,” Smailov said, urging Emirati partners to use all available opportunities for cooperation.

“Despite the global crisis, foreign direct investment inflows into our country rose 54 percent to $6.8 billion in the first quarter of this year,” he added.

The UAE is Kazakhstan’s leading strategic trade and economic partner in the Arab region, particularly in the petrochemical, energy, transport, logistics services, agriculture and space sectors. UAE direct investment in Kazakhstan has totaled more than US$2.6 billion over the past 16 years.

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Meanwhile, in Abu Dhabi, Smailov met Musabbeh Al-Kaabi, who runs the Emirates’ state-owned Mubadala Investment Company, which has assets of $285 billion and ranks 13th in the world ranking of sovereign wealth funds. After the meeting, Al-Kaabi expressed interest in investing in Kazakhstan’s green energy, finance, mining and oil and gas sectors.

As part of the visit, Smailov also held negotiations with Mohammed Al Suwaidi, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of ADQ – one of the largest holding companies in the region with direct and indirect investments in more than 90 companies.

In total, the Kazakh delegation presented 40 investment projects worth US$6.5 billion in mining, agriculture, oil and gas, and construction to Emirati companies.

“We have serious potential in the areas of energy, chemical industry, agriculture, mining and metallurgical complexes. In this regard, I would like to propose to take part in the implementation of new projects that have been specially prepared taking into account the current situation in the world,” the prime minister stressed, according to his press service.

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Smailov also emphasized the potential of the Trans-Caspian International Trade Route (TITR), known as the “Middle Corridor”, as the main hub for realizing transcontinental trade potential and attracting private investment. Kazakhstan is actively developing the Trans-Caspian international transport route, Smailov said, adding that there are plans to build a shipbuilding plant along the Caspian Sea coast.

TITR runs from the Chinese seaport of Lianyungang to the Sino-Kazakh border, further through Kazakhstan, the Caspian Sea, Azerbaijan and Georgia to Europe. Goods are transported by rail to the Kazakh seaports of Aktau and Kuryk and further by ship across the Caspian Sea to Baku International Sea Trade Port (Port of Baku) in Azerbaijan. In Azerbaijan, containers are transported on the 826-kilometer Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway line in the direction of Georgia and finally Türkiye. The route further splits into two parts, both heading towards Europe – one passing through the Turkish cities of Mersin and Istanbul and the Mediterranean Sea. At the same time, the other stretches across the Black Sea to the Ukrainian city of Chernomorsk.

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In 2021, transit and container traffic on TITR exceeded 25,000 20-foot equivalent containers (TEU), a 20 percent increase from 2020. The participating countries intend to increase the volume of freight along the route sixfold to 3.2 million tons per year.

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