Kazakhstan Seeks Indian Investment in its Rapid Industrialisation

Astana, April 16 (IANS) In diversifying its economy with at least 140 new manufacturing projects, Kazakhstan is keen to have investment from Indian businesses, its Deputy Foreign Minister Kairat Umarov said. The Central Asian country has huge fossil fuel reserves and is rich in minerals such as uranium, copper, and zinc.

Umarov, who was the Kazakh ambassador to India from 2004-09, said his country has recently launched an ambitious diversification programme to develop sectors like transport, pharmaceuticals, telecommunications, petrochemicals, IT and food processing.

"We are launching 140 projects in the manufacturing sector. We would love to have Indian participation (in these projects)," Umarov told a select group of Indian journalists, including an IANS correspondent, traveling with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Astana.

Manmohan Singh arrived in this flashy capital of Kazakhstan Friday for a short visit to sign trade agreements, including the one under that gives India's ONGC Videsh Ltd (OVL) 25 percent stake in the Satpayev oil block in the Caspian Sea.

The minister, credited for elevating the bilateral relations between India and Kazakhstan to the level of strategic partnership, said: "There are lots of sectors where we (India and Kazakhstan) can complement each other (like) civil nuclear, IT, hydrocarbon, agriculture, cyber security, textiles, petrochemicals and pharmaceuticals sectors."

The 140 new projects would be in addition to $55.5 billion worth 300 economic projects outside the energy segment in the country. These projects would be operational by 2015 and are expected to generate some 200,000 jobs.

Extractive industries, the one that provides raw materials, have been the engines of the Kazakhstan economic growth. But its geographic limitations have presented serious obstacles raising fears of the middle income trap. The country last year witnessed an industrial growth rate of 7.3 - 41st in the world.

The innovative industrial policy by the land-locked country with restricted access to high seas was launched to escape from the trap and from an overreliance on oil and extractive industries.

"We have joint ventures with Japanese, Chinese, Russian companies for these projects," Umarov said, even as he lamented the reluctance of Indian business to invest heavily in Kazakhstan.

Bilateral trade between India and Kazakhstan stands at little less than $300 million and leaders from the two countries are saying it was much below potential and has an immense scope for expansion.

Umarov said when he was the ambassador in Delhi, he "had proposed to Tata's and other big businesses to invest in Kazakhstan".

"As far as I know, there were initial discussions but no further communication. We cannot drag them," said the diplomat who now oversees the Kazakh relations with the US and America's multilateral cooperation, external publicity and foreign policy studies and prognosis.

He said there were some 200 Indian companies presently in Kazakhstan. "But most of them are in small trade and services sector. It would be good if Indians contribute in Kazakhstan's industrial sector."


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Title: Kazakhstan Seeks Indian Investment in its Rapid Industrialisation

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