Potential for expanding Kazakh-India ties huge, says envoy

ANI | Updated: Feb 16, 2018 14:28 IST

New Delhi [India], Feb.16 (ANI): Maintaining that there is huge potential to explore and expand the strategic and economic partnership between Kazakhstan and India, Kazakhstan's Ambassador to India Bulat Sarsenbayev said governments of both countries should take all possible steps to address the large mutual expectations of people and sectors.

Addressing participants at the two-day Second India-Kazakhtsan Joint Business Council meeting being held here under the aegis of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), Ambassador Sarsenbayev said, "The mechanism of the business council provides a real platform for direct communication between the companies of the two countries to which the growing interest of both sides is felt.

Thanking business representatives of both countries for participating in the two-day event, the envoy said, "The creation and holding of the business council meeting is subordinated to the new principles of development of Kazakhstan, its economy and trade relations stated in the main points of President Nursultan Nazarbayev's address to the people of Kazakhstan in the year 2018."

Later, talking exclusively to ANI on the sidelines of the meeting, Ambassador Sarsenbayev said, "There are huge expectations. There is a huge potential between the two countries. Kazakhstan is the biggest trade partner of India among Central Asian countries and could be a real partner to India. We not only wait for the assistance from India. We are ready to cooperate with India in many ways and in many areas, not only in trade, but also, in terms of some investments, some scientific projects and some cultural."

Citing an example of the very high level of cooperation that exists between Astana and New Delhi, he added, "Last year, we started to cooperate with India in the film industry on a very big scale. It happened during the visit of Prime Minister Modi in June 2017 during the SCO Summit. Our leader (President Nazarbayev) asked why not cooperate in the area of film industry and since then, it has started. Last year, an Indian delegation went to Kazakhstan and chose 'The Prince'. It is a very big movie. The movie will be a big Indian blockbuster. They will make about 11,000 copies. A part of it will be shot in Kazakhstan instead of Afghanistan. It should have been shot in Afghanistan, but due to the availability of similar scenery in Kazakhstan and a greater safety, and stability, it is going to get shot in Kazakhstan."

Ambassador Sarsenbayev also revealed that Kazakhstan and India are also cooperating in the education sector.

"Recently, in Kashmir, we held a conference between our universities on the inputs of Mirza Muhammad Haidar and on the historic relations between our countries. He was a cousin brother of Babur Khan. He was the Governor of Kashmir for ten years. He was also amongst first Mughal rulers. He belonged to Kazakhstan, so in that sense, both countries are cooperating since the 16th century. Some consider him an invader. Yes it was, but during those times, someone or the other was invading some country or the other. The most interesting part of the conference was when an Indian scientist stated that he brought craftsmen from all over the world, musical instruments, and architectures with him. He brought culture with him, and today, Kashmir is known for it -- Pashmina and etc. The culture is from Central Asia," Ambassador Sarsenbayev said.

He said that he was very satisfied with the current level of talks between the two countries, as well as with the delegation-level participation.

"Big firms have come, including Kazakhstan Temir Zholy, the national railway company of Kazakhstan, Air Astana, the national carrier, as well," he said.

In the area of defence cooperation, the envoy said, "We are preparing an agreement to be signed to deploy a Kazakhstan peace keeping unit in Lebanon on an Indian base with the Indian battalion. So, we will be together there. It is the first peace keeping deployment."

G.V. Srinivas, Joint Secretary (Eurasia) in the Ministry of External Affairs, said, "Kazakh companies have come to meet their Indian counterparts to engage in how to move forward with the cooperation in areas such as tourism, hotel, resources and minerals."

On the issue of bilateral defence cooperation, he said, "We are preparing an agreement to be signed to deploy a Kazakhstan peacekeeping unit in Lebanon on the Indian base with the Indian battalion..Kazakhstan put forth the request and we are considering it. Kazakhstan's troop size for the UN peacekeeping mission is not enough, thereby they proposed to collaborate with the Indian troops."

The event was organised by the Foreign Trade Chamber of Kazakhstan and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India. The Business Council meeting was attended by representatives of more than 30 Kazakh companies operating in various sectors of the economy, including JSC Tengri Bank, JSC Kazakhstan Temir Zholy, JSC Kazakh Corporation of Health and Medical Insurance Interteach, Air Astana, Zaman Group, Cyber Security Center of Kazakh National University named after Al-Farabi, Prime Group Managing Company LLP, National Chamber of Entrepreneurs of Kazakhstan Atameken and others.

More than 100 Indian companies interested in establishing trade, economic and investment ties with Kazakhstan partners took part in the event from the Indian side, including the GMR Group, Tata Projects Ltd, Artemis Hospitals, Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd, Air India, Chandan Steel Group, Multiwyn Industries Pvt. Ltd., Escorts, Sonalika International Tractors Ltd., Reliance, Capexil and others.

The co-chairman of the Business Council from Indian side and Chairman and Managing Director of RRB Energy Limited, Rakesh Bakshi, Ambassador of Kazakhstan to India Bulat Sarsenbayev, the co-chairman of the Business Council from Kazakhstan side, Chairman of the board of Tengri Bank Yerzhan Shaikenov and Joint Secretary of Eurasia Division of the Ministry of External Affairs of India G V Srinivas addressed the audience.

Bakshi said the quantitative and qualitative composition of the Indian and Kazakhstan delegations was a reflection of the importance that both countries attach to the need to take relations in every sphere forward.

Shaikenov expressed the hope that the event will enhance bilateral economic cooperation and understanding in the future. He suggested that the next meeting of the business council takes place in Kazakhstan in 2019.

The Managing Director of Kazakh Invest, Zhandos Orazaliyev, highlighted the investment opportunities available in Kazakhstan. Ravi Chaudhry, Chairman of CeNext Group, also made a presentation on "Kazakhstan: Unexplored Investment Destination for Indian Businesses".

In the framework of the business council meeting, representatives of enterprises of both countries held B2B meetings, during which they exchanged information and discussed prospects for cooperation. Several preliminary agreements on the beginning of cooperation between companies in various fields were reached.

For example, in the course of these B2B meetings, projects for assembly of agricultural, construction and other machinery in Kazakhstan by Sonalika International Tractors Ltd., Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd. and Escorts were considered. Energy projects in Mangistau and Karaganda regions of Kazakhstan which are under consideration to be implemented by the GMR Group, and creating a Kazakhstan terminal at a seaport on the west coast of India by Kazakhstan Temir Zholy were discussed. It is planned that the Kazakhstan terminal will be part of the logistic corridor that includes the Kazakhstan-Turkmenistan-Iran Railway.

Following the meeting, a road map was adopted on trade, economic and investment cooperation between Kazakhstan and India. The first road map was adopted in July 2015 during the Kazakh-Indian business forum in Astana, in the presence of the Prime Ministers of the two countries. (ANI)