Kazakh-Australian relations: Results and Prospects

July 04. Kazpravda

Kazakh-Australian relations: Results and ProspectsBy Yerlan Baudarbek Kozhatayev, RK Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Republic of Singapore, concurrently accredited in Australia and New Zealand

This year we marked 20 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations between Kazakhstan and Australia.

Despite the geographical distance of our republic from the Green continent, in a short historical period we have established close cooperation between the two countries across the entire spectrum of relations. A constructive political dialogue of senior management of the countries contributes a lot to that. A solid foundation of cooperation was laid during the first official visit of President Nursultan Nazarbayev to Canberra in December 1996. In May of this year in the frames of the nuclear security summit in Seoul, the Kazakh leader and Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard also expressed their intention to make further efforts for the development of collaboration, noting the ongoing dynamics of bilateral relations.

The activities of Kazakhstan and Australia in the international arena are characterized by similar positions on such modern challenges as climate change, international terrorism and nonproliferation issues. The evidence of this is a joint holding by the two countries in Astana in September 2010 of the Conference on the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism.

It should be noted that Canberra supports the majority of RK international initiatives. In particular, the then foreign minister of the Green continent Kevin Rudd participated in the OSCE summit in the Kazakh capital as a partner in the dialogue and in the 38th meeting of the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers as a guest. He was highly appreciative of the OSCE summit in Astana and that was confirmed on his personal website which published: “The President of Kazakhstan in the first place, revived the OSCE. The OSCE was a tired and moribund organization, and he brought it back to life … The idea of President Nursultan Nazarbayev on the importance of inter-religious dialogue for the security must be developed not only in the space of the Organization, but also throughout Asia. ”

Kazakhstan – Australia cooperation is also strengthening through the parliaments. The visit of the delegation headed by Peter Slipper, Speaker of the House of Representatives of the Australian legislative body to the RK in April of this year made a significant contribution to the expansion of cooperation in this area.

The high level of political relations is also in favor of the business contacts’ development. In particular, in 2011 the Australian gross inflows of investments in the Kazakhs economy amounted to 69 million dollars.

The partnership between the two countries in the mining industry is of special importance. Thus in January last year the governorate of Karaganda region and the Australian company “Dart Energy” signed a memorandum on cooperation in natural gas production, and currently the sides are developing the project to extract methane gas from the mines and use it as an alternative energy source. The project involves, in essence, creating a new fuel and energy industry with the volume of methane production of 3.5 billion cubic meters a year for heat and electricity. By the way, this volume is enough to supply the cities Astana and Karaganda during 80-90 years.

A memorandum of understanding was also signed to establish a joint venture for exploration of copper deposits in the Kostanai region between the national mining company “Tau-Ken Samruk” and the Australian-British concern “Rio Tinto” – the second largest mining company in the world. At present the negotiations are underway on joint activities on the final stages. The parties have decided on the territory for the planned exploration works, as well as defined the amount of initial investment of $ 100 million. The agriculture is another important area of international cooperation. In particular, Kazakhstan is introducing the Australian experience in developing the agricultural sector in the risky conditions, in cultivation, transporting and storing the crop. At the present time a joint laboratory of genetics of cereal crops, which conducts research for breeding of drought-resistant varieties of cereals, was created with participation of the JSC “KazAgroInnovation” and the Australian Centre for Plants’ Functional Genomics.

Kazakh farmers actively learn and adopt experience of their colleagues from the Green continent on the development of livestock breeding. During the past year we imported from Australia a batch of breeding cattle – 439 heads. The purchase of the cattle of Angus and Hereford breeds at more than 300 million tenge was financed by “KazAgroFinance” within the frames of the investment projects’ implementation in rural areas.

Cultural and humanitarian exchange between the two countries is in the active phase too. Currently more than 40 Kazakh students study at the universities of Australia on the President’s program “Bolashak”.

In general, due to such factors as the similarity of economic structures with significant extracting and mining segments, agrarian orientation, vast and sparsely populated territory, Kazakhstan and Australia have great potential for the development of mutually beneficial cooperation. It is noteworthy that in the year of the 20th anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations between our countries, the Australian government officially announced the plans to open their embassy with residence in Astana. And in the current year as a preparatory phase the Australian affiliate of State Agency for Trade and Investment “Austreyd” will began to work in our republic.