The Belt and Road Initiative means new economic options for Kazakhstan’s development, according to a researcher at the China Studies Center in the Central Asian nation.
The BRI is “a wonderful initiative that really creates a lot of opportunities for all the participants”, said Timur Shaimergenov, senior research fellow at the center.
“The first is access to new foreign markets,” he said. “Kazakhstan is a continentally isolated country. The Belt and Road Initiative opens up the Pacific Ocean for Kazakhstan. Our country is grateful for gaining access to the port of Lianyungang (in China). We have widened our opportunities in foreign trade.”
The BRI is also a new opportunity for industrial development for Kazakhstan, Shaimergenov said. Today, Kazakhstan plays a new geoeconomic role in Eurasia, serving as a continental hub and a bridge between East and West. China is a huge market, and it is very positive for the industrial development of the neighboring countries, he said.
Shaimergenov congratulated China on the brilliant results it has achieved during the past 40 years, and noted that it has set an example of a developing country becoming the second-largest global economy.
“We can study your experience in economic, social and political development. It helps other developing countries to avoid the problems that China faced.
“Today, Chinese development is very specific because China tries to share its own experience on development and to support neighboring countries in their efforts to reform, which is a very different global mindset,” he said.
During the past few years, Kazakhstan has signed a number of agreements with China to export its vegetables and fruits to the Chinese market.
In 2016, the governments of the two countries signed an agreement to connect China’s BRI with the Path of Light economic strategy of Kazakhstan. It has helped with exchanges at the government level, business level and people-to-people level, according to Shaimergenov.
“The connection of the BRI and the Path of Light strategy has influenced the dynamics of our cooperation significantly,” he said. “The agreement doubled the annual volume of trade from China to Europe through Kazakhstan.
“During the past few years, it has helped us to reduce (the time spent on) administrative and border control procedures by three-fourths, to allow trains to transit faster through Kazakhstan,” Shaimergenov said.
Kazakhstan operates about 70 percent of all trade transit from China to Europe, he added.
The stated mission of the China Studies Center in Kazakhstan is to provide information on Chinese development. Researchers at the center visit many different cities and provinces in China. By analyzing Chinese development, they identify new options for bilateral relations between Kazakhstan and China. The center cooperates with many Chinese leading think tanks.