China, Kazakhstan Bilateral Trade Up 34% In Twelve Months
High level meetings set out new 2023 trade and sectoral developments
The Kazakh spring, known as Nauryz, began in Almaty with meetings between Alikhan Smailov, the Kazakh Prime Minister, and Zhang Xiao, the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of China to Kazakhstan. The two sides discussed a wide range of issues of intergovernmental cooperation in trade, mutual investment, industry, energy, agriculture, transport and logistics, digital technologies, the use of transboundary rivers, and other development issues.
Smailov noted that China is one of Kazakhstan’s largest trading partners and is also among the top 5 countries investing in the economy of the republic. He outlined Kazakhstan’s readiness to work towards achieving the goal set by both countries Presidents to increase the Kazakh-China bilateral trade volume to US$35 billion by 2030.
The trend is there. Between January-December 2022, the goods trade turnover between Kazakhstan and China amounted to US$24.1 billion, and increase of 34.1% over the previous year.
Exports from Kazakhstan to China increased by 34.7% to US$13.2 billion, and accounted for 15.6% of the country’s total export turnover. Imports from China to Kazakhstan increased by 33.5% to US$11 billion. China’s share of Kazakhstan’s total imports was 21.9%.
Among the key export categories of Kazakhstan to China, crude oil and oil products are in the first place worth US$4.1 billion, which more than doubled in 2022. Next are refined copper and copper alloys worth US$2.3 billion, up 15.2%, and natural gas reaching US$1.2 billion, up 13.6%. Inorganic chemicals, and ferroalloys also made it to the top five key export commodity groups.
At the same time, among the key import categories from China to Kazakhstan, phones and smartphones took first place, valued at US$910.7 million, increasing 29.6%. Other imported commodity groups included computers, clothing, tires, and auto parts.
Chinese entrepreneurs are also active investors in Kazakhstan. As of September 2022, the commitments of Kazakh residents to Chinese investors amounted to US$13.4 billion, with stable indicators suggesting this trend will continue.
These Chinese investments are mainly directed to the transport and storage sector (US$2.9 billion), the processing industry (US$2.7 billion), and construction (US$2 billion). Meanwhile, the gross inflow of direct Chinese investment in Kazakhstan for January-September 2022 amounted to almost US$1 billion, and in 2021 for three quarters it reached as much as US$1.5 billion.
The two countries trade growth is expected to continue to rebound after both Covid-19 and the fallout from the Wests sanctions upon Russia. The Horgos international center, a main trade artery between China and the West, is now recovering volume levels, the two countries have opened the third railway crossing in the area of the Bakhty-Pokitu checkpoint, the development of the Trans-Caspian international transport route is continuing, along with the construction of major highways, and the creation of new engineering production facilities.
Direct air links are due to begin again between Astana and Beijing at three flights a week as well as the simplification of immigration procedures for citizens traveling between the two countries.
China’s Ambassador to Kazakhstan, Zhang Xiao, expressed the Chinese side’s interest in importing agricultural products from Kazakhstan, increasing the volume of railway transportation, strengthening inter-regional cooperation, and partnering in the IT sector. According to him, Kazakhstani companies are currently actively supported in accessing large Chinese trading platforms and the Chinese market as a whole. “We believe that there is great potential for taking our economic relations to a qualitatively new level. We need to set new, more ambitious goals.”