Kazakhstan - Canada Relations

Since the establishment of diplomatic relations in April 1992, cooperation between the Republic of Kazakhstan and Canada has been growing to mutual benefit.

Kazakhstan is represented in Canada by the Embassy of Kazakhstan in Ottawa and the Consulate in Toronto. Canada is represented in Kazakhstan by the Embassy of Canada in Astana.

The legal framework of bilateral cooperation 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); 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); Memorandum of Understanding between the Ministry of Agriculture of Kazakhstan and the Ministry of Agriculture and Agri-Food of Canada (2012); Agreement on Cooperation in the Peaceful Use of Nuclear Energy (2013).

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 Kazakhstan-Canadian cooperation. In November 2010, President Nursultan Nazarbayev held a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Stephen Harper within the framework of the NATO Summit in Lisbon. The latest unofficial meeting between President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper took place within the framework of the G20 Summit in Russia in 2013. Prime Minister of Kazakhstan Karim Massimov met with Prime Minister of Canada Stephen Harper in Kiev in 2014.

Bilateral contacts between Kazakhstan and Canada has been intensified over the recent years.

In 2012, 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.

In 2013 Canada’s Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Gerry Ritz made a return visit to Kazakhstan. He held talks with Minister of Agriculture of Kazakhstan Asylzhan Mamytbekov and also delivered a speech at the annual Astana Economic Forum. During the visit the parties noted significant opportunities to further strengthen cooperation and welcomed the development of bilateral business ties.

In 2013, Kazakhstan and Canada continued discussions on the conclusion of the Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement. Kazakhstan's Minister of Economic Integration Zhanar Aitzhanova traveled to Canada in March. She met with Canada’s Minister of International Trade Ed Fast, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Suzanne Vinet and participated in the round of talks on Kazakhstan’s accession to the World Trade Organization.

The oil and gas industry continues to play significant role in Kazakhstan-Canadian relations. Minister of Oil and Gas of Kazakhstan Uzakbai Karabalin was on a working visit to Calgary in October 2013. His delegation included KazEnergy Association Vice-Chairman Jambulat Sarsenov, General Director of KazTransOil JSC Kayrgeldy Kabyldin and other representatives.

Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada John Baird visited Astana in November 2013. His visit was the first bilateral trip of a Canadian Foreign Minister to Kazakhstan since the two countries established diplomatic relations. While in Astana, Minister John Baird was received by President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev, Speaker of the Mazhilis Nurlan Nigmatulin. He held discussions with Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan Erlan Idrissov and from the Canadian side signed the Agreement on Cooperation in the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy between Canada and Kazakhstan. (Bilateral 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 in Canada).

Joint Statement that Minister John Baird and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan Erlan Idrissov adopted after their bilateral meeting in Astana highlighted the close partnership between Kazakhstan and Canada on a wide range of bilateral and multilateral issues relating to trade and investment, energy and the environment, education, legal matters and global security (http://kazembassy.ca/news-and-events/joint-statement-by-kazakhstans-minister-of-foreign-affairs-erlan-idrissov-and-canadian-foreign-affairs-minister-john-baird/).

Kazakhstan’s Prosecutor General Askhat Daulbayev made a working visit to Canada on December 4, 2013, meeting with Speaker of the Senate of Canada Noel Kinsella and key law enforcement stakeholders in the Canadian legal system, including Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Chris Alexander, with a view to discussing prospective areas of partnership and to exchange best practices.

In 2014, Canada’s Minister of State (Foreign Affairs and Consular) Lynne Yelich visited Astana in May, during which she was received by Kazakhstan’s Prime Minister Karim Massimov and Minister of Foreign Affairs Erlan Idrissov. Canada’s Minister of State also met with the Deputy Prime Minister – Minister of Industry and New Technologies Asset Issekeshev, Minister of Agriculture Asylzhan Mamytbekov, Deputy Foreign Minister Yerzhan Ashikbaev and other officials. She also took part in the 7th Astana Economic Forum (AEF).

Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan Yerzhan Ashikbayev visited Ottawa on June 8-9, 2014. His meetings with Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs John Baird, Minister of State (Foreign Affairs and Consular) Lynne Yelich, Foreign Affairs’ Associate Deputy Minister Peter Boehm and Assistant Deputy Minister Dan Costello provided an opportunity to have detailed discussion on a wide range of bilateral and multilateral issues of cooperation. Visa issues, simplification and liberalization of visa regime, were in the focus of the meeting between Deputy Minister Ashikbayev and Minister of Citizenship and Immigration of Canada Chris Alexander.

In September 2014, delegation of the Parliament of Canada led by MP Leon Benoit, Co-chair of the Kazakhstan-Canada Parliamentary Friendship Group, together with Senator of Canada Joseph Day, MP Russ Hiebert and MP Peter Stoffer visited Kazakhstan. Members of the Canadian Delegation were received by Chairman of the Senate of the Parliament of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev and Chairman of the Mazhilis of the Parliament of Kazakhstan Kabibula Dzhakupov. They also had talks with Kazakhstan’s Prime Minister Karim Massimov, Minister of Foreign Affairs Erlan Idrissov and other officials.

There is active engagement between Kazakhstan and Canada at the provincial and regional level. Two delegations from Alberta visited Kazakhstan in 2012 and 2013 and the last one was led by the province’s Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Verlyn Olson. Business delegations from Ontario and Manitoba visited Kazakhstan in 2012 and 2014. Official delegation of the Atyrau Region visited Alberta in 2015.

According to Kazakhstan’s official statistics, in 2012-2014 bilateral trade between Kazakhstan and Canada was more than $7 billion. According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development of Canada, the volume of Canadian investment in Kazakhstan amounted to nearly $16 billion during 1994-2013. The main flow of Canadian investment is directed to the oil, gas and mining sectors of Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan is among the priority countries according to the Global Markets Action Plan, adopted by the Canadian Federal Government in 2013.

There are 40 representative offices with the Canadian capital registered in Kazakhstan. They are engaged in various economic sectors, including oil & gas sector, mining, agriculture, engineering, construction, consulting, healthcare and education. Among them are such well-known companies as Cameco Corporation, SNC-Lavalin, Bombardier, Solmax International, CanAgro, DonMar, Morris Industries, Bourgault and others.

Kazakhstan and Canada actively cooperate 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. One of the examples is successful partnership with Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT Polytechnic) that was chosen as a strategic partner in development of APEC Petrotechnic, the Interregional Professional Training and Retraining Centre in the oil and gas sector in western Kazakhstan.

About 150 students from Kazakhstan study in Canadian universities through the Presidential Bolashak Program that awards scholarships to high-performing students from Kazakhstan to study abroad. The relationship between Kazakhstan and Canada’s universities is also growing. President of Algonquin College Kent MacDonald visited Kazakhstan in 2013 and 2014 and signed a memorandum of understanding with Kazakh National Technical University.

Promotion of tolerance and freedom of religion is another area where Canada and Kazakhstan cooperate. Head of the Religious Freedom Office of Canada Andrew Bennett made his very first foreign visit to Kazakhstan to attend an international conference on the theme of religious freedom in March, 2013. Parliamentary Secretary of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada Bob Dechert also took part in the conference.

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.

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.