When it comes to economic cooperation within post-soviet are, Russia comes first to mind. Yes, this country remains an important trade partner in CIS, but not the only one. Due to Moscow's traditional policy of pressure on foreign partners and neighbors, Kyiv keep developing ties with other CIS states, including members of the Customs Union. And Kazakhstan is one of them. Working visits and meetings, local agreements and promising contracts  happen more and more often.

Some history

Experts remind that the first 19 years of Ukrainian-Kazakh relations are best remembered for constant "hopes for improvement" and Ukraine's intentions to "make a breakthrough" in this direction. Against such background, it seemed illogical that in 2002 then authorities were assisting to the forcing out of Kazakh business from Kherson refinery. Director of the Center for civil society problems study Vitaly Kulik remembers that then authorities also failed respond adequately to numerous propositions of Astana on development of energy cooperation, which could have awakened "Odessa-Brody" pipeline from its permanent coma.

In this respect, 20010, the first year of Viktor Yanukovych's presidency, was a leap-ahead year, the political scientists continues. Presidents of both countries exchanged official visits and met about ten times in 2010, singing important agreements every time, including the agreement on increase of Kazakh oil transit via Ukraine by eight million tons, the amendments to the Action Plan "Ukraine-Kazakhstan" for 2010-2011.  Moreover Ukrainian state committee of financial monitoring and Finance Ministry of Kazakhstan signed the Memorandum on fight against money laundering and financing of terrorism, and National space agencies of both countries signed the Cooperation Plan in the space sphere. The countries also signed the agreement on creation of beneficial tariffs for freight transportation, the agreement on cooperation in the sphere of education and others.

According to Kulik, the realization of the signed agreement has increased the bilateral goods turnover, making it $4.4 billion in 2011 and $1.3 billion in the first half of 2012. The majority part of export from Ukraine in 2012 consists of train locomotives (31.4% or $411 million) and products of ferrous metals (24.7% of export or $323 million).

Partnership priorities

Indeed, Ukrainian manufacturers have been supplying Kazakhstan with locomotives for a while now. In 2009, one of Ukrainian biggest producers of freight cars "Azovmash" concern, Kazakhstani Akmolinskiy car-repair plant and Kazakhstani railway formed a joint enterprise on production of train cars, including open box cars, boxcars and railway tank-cars, ForUm learned from economists. Ukrainian Krukovski car plant has concluded a contract with Kazakhstani passenger leasing train car company on supply of 42 passenger train cars with innovative compartments - transformers in 2012. The cars have been developed specially for this order.

Besides, the parties are considering the creation of joint enterprise on production of regional cargo and passenger planes An-140. In 2011 the parties determined the assembly section in Almaty and registered an enterprise AeroKaz. According to the state enterprise "Antonov", the new enterprise will be engaged into replacement of old An-24 and An-26. Kharkiv aviation pant will supply basic assemblies and "Motor-Sich" will provide engines. Kazakhstan may also purchase short-haul passenger An-148 for domestic and international airlines.

In general, Presidents of both countries show intentions to deepen cooperation in various spheres. Thus, Kazakhstani President Nursultan Nazarbayev agreed to extend cooperation in energy sphere. Among other promising sectors, he points to 'peaceful atom', space, metallurgy and engineering. The seriousness of intentions is proved by declarations, made by Kazakhstani ambassador in Ukraine Amangeldy Zhumabayev back in 2010. "One of the industries of interest for us is engineering. Ukraine has necessary industrial base from USSR times, and Kazakhstan is interested in supplies of agricultural machinery, equipment for power plants and import of train cars. We also consider possibilities of building plants for assembly and maintenance of this equipment on the territory of Kazakhstan."

As for atom energy, Ukrainian-Kazakhstani-Russian joint enterprise won in July the tender for UAH 270 thousand on technical and economic assessment of domestic uranium mining (Zheltiye Vody, Dnipropetrovk region). The realization process of the project will follow the experience of Kazakhstan on in situ recovery. As a reminder, the work of the joint enterprise provides for construction of a nuclear fuel plant in Ukraine, which will lessen our dependence on supplies from Russia. The cost of the plant is UAH 2.36 billion.

Tasks for the future

Among other joint projects there is mutually beneficial transit potential, Kulik says. In particular, Kazakhstani President has already invited Kyiv to participate in the project of transcontinental corridor "China-Europe" through territory of Kazakhstan. Astana considers Ukraine as a bridge to Europe. "Advantageous transit position of Ukraine is important for our state program "Way to Europe" and opens additional possibilities for advancement of economic interests of Kazakhstan in the European region, especially taking into account Ukraine's gradual integration into the EU. Your country can become an effective exit platform to the European markets goods and services," Zhumabayev says.

In his turn, head of the Kazakhstani Foreign Ministry Yerzhan Kazykhanov confirmed the will to develop bilateral relations. "Economic cooperation with Ukraine remains a priority for our foreign policy. Ukraine is a state with enormous human resources, industrial potential and unique geographic position. It has access to the sea and developed transportation and transit infrastructure," he said in August, on the eve of 20th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations with Kyiv. According to the diplomat, there are huge joint opportunities in atom energy sphere and in mining and processing of uranium. "The participation of our national companies in enjoyment of Black Sea ports remains topical. The activation of cooperation in the sphere of cargo transportation will extend the geography of trade routes from Asia to Europe," Kazykhanov believes.  We cannot but hope that this time Ukrainian partners will not ignore such promising initiatives.

Political scientist Roman Syrinskiy adds that Kyiv should also put forward his own propositions on economic cooperation with Astana, as well cooperation in the sphere of education and training. According to the analyst, both countries can develop mutually beneficial integration forms for education institutions. "Similar projects can be implemented in the healthcare sphere, for example agreements on medical services and treatment, joint researches, training of medical staff and equipping of hospitals."  

Thus, the potential of cooperation is more than sufficient, and now it's up to the authorities to realize it. As a result, Kyiv may obtain a constructive and powerful partner, which in its turn will strengthen Ukraine's positions in CIS and weaken ambitions of known party t 'monopolize' the Commonwealth.

Andriy Boyarunets


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