Singapore, Kazakhstan Trade Deal Could Happen By End 2017

Singapore, Kazakhstan Trade Deal Could Happen By End 2017

Trade between Singapore and Kazakhstan looks set to grow with the signing of the Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT), which could take place as soon as the end of this year.

Senior Minister of State Dr Koh Poh Koon told Channel NewsAsia during an interview on Tuesday (Jul 25) that the treaty is currently undergoing “legal scrubbing”, before it can be signed “some time towards the end of the year”.

Discussions on the treaty were concluded in June, and its signing will open up more business and investment opportunities for both countries. Kazakhstan, which is the world’s ninth-largest country by land mass, is also Singapore’s largest trading partner in Central Asia. It is currently undergoing a rapid phase of economic development and urbanisation, and holds many opportunities for Singapore companies.

Dr Koh said that Kazakhstan and Singapore can play a “complementary role as mutual gateways of entry into each other’s markets”, largely due to their geographical locations.

Singapore, Kazakhstan Trade Deal Could Happen By End 2017

Senior Minister of State Koh Poh Koon shaking hands with the chairman of the Board of Astana Expo 2017 Akhmetzhan Yessimov. (Photo: Dewi Fabbri)

Kazakhstan is one of the key nodes on the Silk Road Economic Belt, and serves as a gateway for Singapore companies looking to enter the Central Asian market, while Singapore’s location on the Maritime Silk route can serve as a springboard for Kazakh companies hoping to tap on opportunities in Southeast Asia.

In 2016, bilateral trade in goods between the two countries amounted to S$23.5 million – a dip from S$40 million in 2015. The Kazakh imports consisted of petroleum oils, unwrought zinc alloys and chromium trioxide, and Singapore’s were largely magnetic stripe cards, lubricating oil and floating docks to the Central Asian giant.

Dr Koh was speaking ahead of an early National Day celebration at the Astana Expo 2017, where both countries reaffirmed their strong bilateral and economic ties.

In a speech, Dr Koh said he was confident ties that business and investment ties between Kazakhstan and Singapore will continue to strengthen. Also present at the event was Kazakh vice minister of Investments and Development, Mr Yerlan Khairov, and guests were treated to a cultural performance that told the Singapore story.

Both ministers also toured the Singapore Pavilion, which, in line with Astana Expo 2017’s theme of “Future Energy”, highlights Singapore’s expertise and efforts in developing sustainable energy solutions.

Themed “Small City, Big Ideas”, the pavilion, which is styled as a terrarium, features various innovations and sustainable energy ideas by Singapore organisations including the Energy Market Authority, Building and Construction Authority and the Economic and Development Board.

There are about 100 Kazakhstan companies registered in Singapore to date, according to Singapore’s Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI). Among the Singapore companies that have undertaken activities in Kazakhstan are Surbana Jurong and Educare, with the former undertaking several master planning projects in the country.