Kazakhstan - Canada Relations
Since the establishment of diplomatic relations in April 1992, political and economic contacts between the Republic of Kazakhstan and Canada have been growing to mutually benefit both parties.
The legal framework of cooperation that has been established thus far includes the Declaration on Economic Cooperation (1992), Declaration on Principles of Relations (1995), Agreement on Trade (1997), Convention for the Avoidance of Double Taxation (1998), Kazakhstan – Canadian Joint Action Plan to Strengthen Economic Partnership (2003) and also the Memorandum of Understanding in the sphere of economic cooperation, trade and investment between the Ministry of Industry and Trade of Kazakhstan and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade of Canada (2009) and Memorandum of Understanding between the Ministry of Agriculture of Kazakhstan and the Ministry of Agriculture and Agri-Food of Canada (2012).
The visit of President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev to Canada in June 2003 became an important event in the history of bilateral relations and provided a new impetus to cooperation between Kazakhstan and Canada. In November 2010, President Nursultan Nazarbayev held a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Stephen Harper within the framework of the NATO Summit in Lisbon.
Kazakhstan and Canada maintain regular contacts at the level of ministries of foreign affairs. The latest meeting between Kazakhstan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Erlan Idrissov and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada John Baird took place on the sidelines of the Sir Bani Yas Forum in Abu Dhabi in November 2012.
2012, the year of the 20th anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations between Kazakhstan and Canada, was marked by significant strengthening of bilateral cooperation, including increasing political dialogue, intergovernmental ties, trade and economic and humanitarian relations.
A number of high level delegations from Kazakhstan visited Canada including Speaker of the Lower House of Parliament Nurlan Nigmatulin, two Deputy Prime Ministers - Kairat Kelimbetov and Yerbol Orynbayev, Minister of Agriculture Asylzhan Mamytbekov, Chairman of the Civil Service Agency Alikhan Baimenov, President of the JSC National Atomic Company Kazatomprom Vladimir Shkolnik. The Kazakhstan-Canadian investment forum was organized in Vancouver during which Kazakhstan’s delegation was headed by Vice-Minister of Industry and New Technologies Nurlan Sauranbayev.
Kazakhstan was visited by Canada’s Minister of State for Finance Ted Menzies, Vice-Chair of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development Paul Dewar and delegations from Alberta and Ontario.
On October 20-26, 2012, official delegation of the Parliament of Kazakhstan headed by the Speaker of the Lower House Nurlan Nigmatulin participated in the 127th Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union in Quebec, during which the head of Kazakhstan’s delegation met with Canada’s Governor General David Johnston, Speaker of the Senate Noel Kinsella and Speaker of the House of Commons Andrew Scheer.
Kazakhstan’s Deputy Prime Minister Yerbol Orynbayev visited Calgary in October 2012. He held a meeting with Deputy Premier of Alberta Thomas Lukaszuk, during which it was agreed to broaden and deepen Kazakshtan-Canadian cooperation in such key areas as the oil and gas sector, agriculture, high technology, education and others.
Deputy Prime Minister Yerbol Orynbayev also held a final round of negotiations with the SAIT Polytechnic in Calgary, which was chosen as a strategic partner in the development of the Interregional Professional Training and Retraining Centre in the oil and gas sector in Atyrau City.
There is a lot of potential for cooperation between Kazakhstan and Canada in education. In addition to the technical vocational education, such areas as higher education, applied science, the experience in creation of major technology centres and others offer prospective opportunities.
About 150 students from Kazakhstan study in Canadian universities through the Presidential Bolashak Program. The relationship between Kazakhstan and Canada’s universities is also growing. In 2012, draft Memorandums on Cooperation between Carleton University and L.N.Gumilyov Eurasian National University (Astana) and Al-Farabi Kazakh National University (Almaty) were prepared for signing. It was also agreed to sign Memorandum of Understanding between the Academy of Public Administration under the President of Kazakhstan and Carleton University.
In April 2012, high level delegation from Kazakhstan headed by Chairman of the Civil Service Agency of Kazakhstan Alikhan Baimenov visited Canada in order to study its model of public service. It became the third visit in line of enhancing Kazakhstan-Canadian cooperation on the issues of public service since the visits of Kazakhstan’s delegations headed by Deputy Heads of Presidential Administration Darkhan Kaletaev in 2008 and Baurzhan Baibek in 2011.
Healthcare is another prospective area for interaction. Delegation of the Sunnybrook International visited Astana in March 2012 to discuss cooperation with Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Healthcare and other agencies. Sunnybrook participated in tendering process for drafting of a feasibility study for development of a National Scientific Oncologic Center in Astana.
The sphere of interethnic and interreligious relations is another important area of cooperation with Canada, which has developed its own model of multiculturalism. Canada’s former Prime Minister Jean Chretien took part in the work of the 4th Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions in Astana in May, 2012, and spoke at the first plenary session. There is a lot of potential for cooperation with the Aga Khan Foundation Canada and the Global Centre for Pluralism.
Kazakhstan and Canada cooperate successfully on the international arena. Kazakhstan and Canada share views on many pressing issues related to non-proliferation, combating international terrorism and providing assistance to Afghanistan. There is increasing interaction between our countries at the UN, OSCE and other international fora.
Both Kazakhstan and Canada are parties to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and take active part in all major international initiatives on disarmament. In 2012 Kazakhstan became a member of the G8 Group of Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction. This program was initiated during Canada’s G8 Presidency in 2002.
The conference “From Nuclear Test Ban to Nuclear Weapons-Free World” was organized in Astana on August 28, 2012 with the support of the PNND and attracted attention of Canadian partners. Former Senator of Canada and PNND Founder Douglas Roche addressed the Plenary Session of the forum, while Vice-Chair of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development Paul Dewar spoke at a public meeting in Kurchatov City.
According to preliminary results of 2012, Kazakhstan remains Canada’s top trade partner among countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States, including Russia, as well as Eastern and Central Europe. In turn, Canada is among the top 10 largest trade and investment partners of Kazakhstan.
According to Kazakhstan’s official statistics, bilateral trade during January-December 2012 was $3.284 billion, including $3.08 billion in export and $203.84 million in import, which is an increase by 17% compared with the same period in 2011. Canada ranked at the 10th place among trade partners of Kazakhstan in 2012 (excluding Kazakhstan’s partner-countries in the Customs Union).
According to Canadian statistics, during January-December 2012, Kazakhstan placed 23rd among Canada’s trading partners with $3.175 billion in trade. Kazakhstan was ranked 18th with $2.894 billion among the largest importers in Canada.
There is a growing bilateral investment partnership. According to the National Bank of Kazakhstan, the total amount of direct investment from Canada in the economy of Kazakhstan reached $5.832 billion (9th place) as of September 31, 2012.
There are 170 companies with Canadian capital and 40 representative offices of Canadian businesses registered in Kazakhstan. They are engaged in various economic sectors, including mining, agriculture, engineering, construction, consulting, architecture design and education. Among them are such well-known companies as Cameco Corporation, Uranium One, SNC-Lavalin, Bombardier, Solmax International, Heenan Blaikie, Gestech International Inc. and others.
Kazakhstan is interested in the exchange of experience in such sectors as banking, budgetary planning and public finance management. There is a need to strengthen comprehensive economic and investment cooperation with Canada, particularly in the mining industry, including the production of uranium, gold, exploration and evaluation of unconventional resources, such as shale gas and oil and also on water management. There is significant potential for cooperation in agriculture, environment, healthcare, education and science, aerospace and tourism.
In view of this, Deputy Prime Minister of Kazakshtan Kairat Kelimbetov visited Ottawa and Toronto in April 2012, where he met with Governor of the Bank of Canada Mark Carney, Minister of Natural Resource of Canada Joe Oliver, Mayor of Toronto Rob Ford, heads of departments of industry and finance, representatives of the Privy Council Office, Government of Ontario and Federation of Canadian Municipalities. During the talks, the parties discussed the prospects of cooperation and sharing experience on such topics as inter-budgetary relations between central and local governments, development of local self-governance, policies for the single-industry towns, public funding, development of non-resource sectors of economy, banking and many others.
Cooperation between Kazakhstan and Canada in the uranium sector is gaining strategic importance. Cameco Corporation is one of the most important partners for Kazakhstan in this sphere.
President of the JSC National Atomic Company Kazatomprom Vladimir Shkolnik visited Canada in July 2012 in order to further deepen Kazakhstan-Canadian cooperation in the field of mining and processing of uranium. He visited Cameco’s biggest uranium processing plants in Ontario, specifically the refinery in Blind River and the conversion facility in Port Hope.
Business delegation from Ontario traveled to Almaty and Ust-Kamenogorsk in December 2012 to present business proposals from Canadian suppliers of equipment for the mining and oil industry.
There is also promise for cooperation in agriculture, which was enhanced by the visit of Minister of Agriculture of Kazakhstan Asylzhan Mamytbekov to Canada on April 2-7, 2012. During the visit, Minister Mamytbekov met with Canada’s Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Gerry Ritz, heads of provincial governments of Alberta and Saskatchewan and also with a number of farmers’ associations and agriculture companies.
Resulting from negotiations, the two agriculture ministers of Kazakhstan and Canada signed the interagency Memorandum of Understanding, which will further increase cooperation in animal and plant production, specifically dual purpose cattle breeding, and also on farm machinery, exchange of knowledge and new technologies in the sphere of agriculture.
Minister of State for Finance Ted Menzies visited Kazakhstan in May 2012. He participated in the 5th Astana Economic Forum and also travelled to the cities of Kokshetau and Almaty, where he met with representatives of Canadian companies working in Kazakhstan to learn about the prospects of cooperation in agriculture.
Delegation from Alberta visited Kazakhstan in October 2012 and held meetings at the Ministry of Agriculture, visited farms in Akmola and Kostanai regions, participated in business seminars on cooperation in agriculture as well as in the Kazakhstan International Exhibition of Agriculture and Food Industry KazAgro-2012.
Officials of the Forestry Committee of the Ministry of Agriculture of Kazakhstan visited Alberta in October 2012 in order to learn about the Canadian experience in the sphere of sustainable forestry, forest fire management, inventory procedures, preservation and restoration of forests and also management of urban green areas.
Broadening of the legal framework will play a major role in strengthening bilateral trade and economic and investment partnership. 2012 provided significant impetus to negotiations on bilateral Agreement on Cooperation in Peaceful Use of Nuclear Energy, which is expected to be signed this year. Also in 2012, there was held another round of negotiations on Agreement on Promotion and Protection of Investments.