Israelis to help build industry parks in Kazakhstan
By SHARON WROBEL
The Jerusalem Post
Israel has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Republic of Kazakhstan for stronger economic cooperation between the two countries, including an agreement to support Israeli entrepreneurs to take part in the creation of industrial parks based on the model of the Tefen industrial zone.
“The relations between Israel and Kazakhstan have been taken to the next level in a number of areas,” Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer said earlier this week. “There is great potential in Kazakhstan for Israeli companies, and cooperation between companies will benefit both countries.
“Israel can offer a lot of knowledge worth a lot of money. With the emergence out of the global economic crisis, we will be able to boost the volume of economic relations between our countries.”
The agreement for closer economic cooperation was struck during Ben-Eliezer’s official visit this week to Kazakhstan. He attended a meeting of the Joint Israel-Kazakhstan Economics Committee in Astana, where talks focused on the two nations’ wish to upgrade bilateral economic and political relations.
Ben-Eliezer signed a memorandum of understanding with his Kazakhstani counterpart, Aset Orentaevich Issekeshev, after meetings with government ministers and company executives, including Communications Minister Abelgazy Kusainov and Agriculture Minister Akylbek Kurishbayev.
At the meeting, Issekeshev expressed an interest in the Tefen industrial zone as a model for industrial parks. As part of the plans, Kazakhstan wants to offer Israeli entrepreneurs and investors tax benefits and special grants on land and infrastructure. In exchange, Israel would encourage and support local entrepreneurs to be part of the projects.
The main areas of interest are agrotechnology, energy preservation, water technology, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, medical equipment and communications.
Terms for cooperation in agriculture research and development were also agreed upon. Kazakhstan and the Volcani Center for Agricultural Research, the research arm of the Agriculture and Rural Development Ministry, which is responsible for most of the agricultural research conducted in Israel, will establish the Kazakhstan-Israel Fund for agricultural innovation. Each side will allocate $1 million. The focus will be on agricultural R&D, training of scientists from Kazakhstan in Israel and development of technologies and agricultural equipment.
In the area of water and renewable energy, the two sides agreed to share knowledge and information through meetings and business seminars and cooperation among companies in both countries.
Other areas of agreed upon for cooperation were the space industry and academia. To encourage tourism to both countries, the possibility of introducing a direct route between Israel and Kazakhstan is also being discussed.
In recent years, trade relations between the two countries have grown from $40m. in 2004 to $162m. in 2008.