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Economic Developments in Pakistan-Kazakhstan Relations

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In recent days, when global attention has focused on Central Asia, partnerships and collaborations established by states of the region attract much more attention than in the past. Relations are deepened by the visits of the European Union (EU) and United States (USA) officials to the region. In addition, there is increasing momentum in the relations of Central Asian countries with other countries in nearby geography. The announcement by Pakistan and Kazakhstan that they will sign a Preferential Trade Agreement on November 18, 2022, can be interpreted as an important development in this regard.[1]

Kazakhstan’s Ambassador to Pakistan Yerzhan Kistafin announced that a transit trade agreement would be signed to accelerate bilateral trade. In this context, Ambassador stated that the Minister of Trade and Integration of Kazakhistan Bakit Sultanov is expected to visit Pakistan in December 2022 to discuss the planned Preferential Trade Agreement and trade relations between the two countries. At the same time, the President of Kazakhstan, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev stated that he will visit Pakistan in near future and this will contribute to the development of close relations between the two countries.[2]

Kazakhstan draws attention to the cooperation it has developed recently. The Astana administration stands out with its recent reform steps and decisions on its multi-vector foreign policy. For this reason, Kazakhstan is in the desire to deepen its cooperation with various actors and establish new partnerships.

Similarly, the Islamabad administration tends to increase its foreign policy partnerships. Pakistani Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif attaches particular importance to economic partnerships and takes initiatives to attract investment to the country. Pakistan is taking steps, especially in the energy sector. In this context, Islamabad, which turns to Gulf countries economically, strengthens its cooperation with Kazakhstan in the energy context.

Two countries, which are considering signing a Preferential Trade Agreement, made a name for themselves with the energy agreement they signed on October 5, 2022. Thus, parties, which have made significant progress in bilateral cooperation, are striving to deepen their economic-based partnerships. It is possible to say that Pakistan’s will to meet its energy needs and Kazakhstan’s will to ensure cooperation diversity is decisive in the development of energy-economy-centered cooperation. Currently, it is known that the trade volume between the parties is 197 million dollars. Yerzhan Kistafin, Kazakhstan’s Ambassador to Pakistan, stated that this figure can be increased to 1 billion dollars.[3] Kistafin’s words have a reasonable basis. Because to diversify and intensify between the two countries, a roadmap was prepared in 2019-2020 and in this context, a memorandum of understanding was signed on thirty-five different subjects.[4]

The parties also care about each other geopolitically. For Kazakhstan, the ports of Pakistan facilitate Astana’s access to the Arabian Sea. Therefore, Islamabad is of great importance in terms of economic interests in Astana. For Pakistan, the element that makes Kazakhstan attractive is energy. Islamabad administration needs energy from Kazakhstan. In return, Pakistan is seen as a gateway to the world in energy exports in Astana. This accelerates the rapprochement in bilateral relations.

It can be stated that the deepening of cooperation between the two countries is also important for economic integration in the South Asia-Central Asia line. Because the partnership of these two states, one of which is advantageous in terms of resources and the other in terms of logistics, accelerates regional and interregional cooperation. For this reason, it is possible to argue that number of projects in which the parties will come together will continue to increase in the future and other regional states will also participate in these cooperations.

Currently, Pakistan and Kazakhstan also have institutional relations through global and regional organizations such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, Economic Cooperation Organization, Organization of Islamic Cooperation, and United Nations. Through these institutions, contacts at the level of leaders have increased and therefore cooperation initiatives resulting in agreements have gained momentum.

As a result, relations on the Islamabad-Astana line tend to expand and deepen. In this sense, it can be said that cooperation in the fields of economy and energy is the driving force of bilateral relations. Therefore, it can be argued that the Preferential Trade Agreement to be signed between parties and the visit of Tokayev to Pakistan will accelerate the relations. Moreover, these developments indicate that not only Pakistan-Kazakhstan relations but also South Asia-Central Asia interaction will increase.


[1] “Pak-Kazakhstan Agrees to Sign Transit Trade Agreement: Ambassador Yerzhan”, App, https://www.app.com.pk/national/pak-kazakhstan-agrees-to-sign-transit-trade-agreement-ambassador-yerzhan/, (Date of Accession: 19.11.2022).

[2] “Pakistan, Kazakhstan Agree to Sign Transit Trade Agreement”, Radio Pakistan, https://www.radio.gov.pk/18-11-2022/pak-kazakhstan-agrees-to-sign-transit-trade-agreement-kazakh-ambassador, (Date of Accession: 19.11.2022).

[3] “Pak-Kazakhstan Agrees to…”, op. cit.

[4] “Road Map Ready to Intensify Pak-Kazakhstan Bilateral Economic Cooperation Ambassador Barlybay Sadykov”, DND, https://dnd.com.pk/road-map-ready-to-intensify-pak-kazakhstan-bilateral-economic-cooperation-ambassador-barlybay-sadykov/159693, (Date of Accession: 19.11.2022).

Şeyma KIZILAY
Şeyma KIZILAY, 2016 yılında Erciyes Üniversitesi İktisadi ve İdari Bilimler Fakültesi Uluslararası İlişkiler Bölümü’nden mezun olmuştur. Yüksek lisans derecesini, 2019 yılında Kırşehir Ahi Evran Üniversitesi Sosyal Bilimler Enstitüsü Uluslararası İlişkiler Anabilim Dalı’nda sunduğu ‘’Uluslararası İlişkilerde Ulus İnşası Bağlamında Irak Örneği” başlıklı teziyle almıştır. Doktora eğitimine Uludağ Üniversitesi Uluslararası İlişkiler Anabilim Dalı’nda devam eden Kızılay, tez aşamasındadır. Başlıca çalışma alanları; güvenlik, terörizm, Afganistan ve Pakistan’dır. Kızılay, iyi derecede İngilizce ve orta seviyede Arapça bilmektedir.