Weekly review: SCO member states vow to strengthen economic cooperation

Prime Minister of Kazakhstan Karim Massimov arrived on Sunday for a working visit in Saint Petersburg to attend the Council of the Heads of Government of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization member states.

The PM started his trip by visiting a number of facilities of rocket-space industry, including the Korolev Rocket and Space Corporation Energia, Gagarin State Scientific Research-and-Testing Cosmonaut Training Center and Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center, as well as meet with the leadership of Russian Federal Space Agency.

Also, the Prime Minister attended the Mikhail Glinka's opera Ruslan and Lyudmila at the restored Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow.

Later Karim Massimov visited the Winter Palace in Saint Petersburg.

Magnificently located on the bank of the Neva River, this Baroque-style palace is perhaps St. Petersburg's most impressive attraction. Many visitors also know it as the main building of the Hermitage Museum. The green-and-white three-storey palace is a marvel of Baroque architecture and boasts 1,786 doors, 1,945 windows and 1,057 elegantly and lavishly decorated halls and rooms, many of which are open to the public.

The regular meeting of the Heads of Government of the SCO member states convened on November 7 in Saint Petersburg.

Prospects for further improvement of the SCO activity and practical measures for the promotion of cooperation in trade and economic, financial, scientific and technical, agricultural and humanitarian spheres were on the agenda of the meeting. Besides, the gathered debated the SCO budget for 2012 and other issues concerning financial and organizational activity of the SCO permanent bodies.

As a part of his working visit to Saint Petersburg Kazakh PM Karim Massimov met with Chairman of the State Council of the People's Republic of China Wen Jiabao.

"Your country will soon mark the 20th anniversary of its independence. On behalf of the Government and people of China I would like to convey our hearty congratulations to the friendly people of Kazakhstan," Wen Jiabao said.

In a meeting the parties exchanged opinions on bilateral cooperation issues, the SCO development and other issues.

Prime ministers Karim Massimov (Kazakhstan), Vladimir Putin (Russia), Akil Akilov (Tajikistan), Wen Jiabao (China), Omurbek Babanov (Kyrgyzstan) and First Vice Premier of Uzbekistan Rustam Azimov took part in the session of the SCO Prime Ministers' Council

Minister of Power of India Sushilkumar Shinde, First Vice President of Iran Mohammad-Reza Rahimi, First Deputy Prime Minister of Mongolia Norovyn Altankhuyag, Prime Minister of Pakistan Syed Yousaf Raza Gillani represented the Organization's observer states.

Prospects of further improvement of the Organization's activity, practical measures on promotion of cooperation in trade-economic, financial, scientific, agricultural, humanitarian and other spheres were on the agenda of the session. The SCO premiers exchanged opinions on the most urgent matters of the regional and international agenda. The session results are reflected in a joint communiqué.

"In the future, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization must become a powerful platform for overcoming the global financial crisis," Kazakh Prime Minister Karim Massimov stated this at the enlarged meeting of the SCO Prime Ministers' Council on Monday in St. Petersburg.

"In the future, the SCO will be a powerful platform to strengthen joint efforts in trade and economic sphere, as well as to overcome the consequences of the global financial crisis," Massimov said.

The Kazakh Premier noted the significant slowdown in economic growth of the leading countries, worsening of financial situation in the U.S. and Europe. "Unfortunately, the past G20 Summit in Cannes failed to clarify the future of economic development," he stressed.

"SCO member states must strengthen cooperation to counter the new wave of global crisis," Kazakh Prime Minister Karim Massimov said.

"Kazakhstan is for strengthening of economic and humanitarian cooperation between the SCO member countries," he noted.

According to him, "it is needed to build economic cooperation through the establishment of a joint interstate reserve bank or a fund. This will facilitate the efficient use of financial resources."

Also the Head of the Government of Kazakhstan said that the development of cooperation in the field of new technologies could become a key to the prosperity of our country.

Prime Ministers of the SCO member countries signed a package of documents during their Monday meeting in St Petersburg.

These documents are the agreement on the SCO 2012 budget, joint communiqué, and joint statement on economic situation in the world and in the SCO space.

"The next meeting of the Prime Ministers' Council of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization will be held next year in Kyrgyzstan," Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin announced on Monday in St Petersburg.

On Tuesday, November 8, Kazakh Prime Minister Karim Massimov held a sitting of the State Commission for Economic Modernization.

The Commission considered the issues of grain export, formation of a free economic zone, implementation of the state program of forced industrial innovative development.

"A lot has been done by the Development Bank of Kazakhstan for the past 10 years." This is stated in the opening message of President Nursultan Nazarbayev, read out by Kazakh Premier Karim Massimov, to the conference on "Promoting Investment for Economy Modernization" dedicated to the DBK's 10th anniversary held on Wednesday in Astana.

"We see the results of 10-year work. The Bank financed projects, which are now the basis of Kazakhstan's economy. These are the port of Aktau, Moinakskaya Hydro Power Plant, Atyrau oil refinery, gas and chemical complex, metallurgical plants in Taraz and Pavlodar, and many other projects," the President's message reads.

The Development Bank of Kazakhstan was established in May 2001 on the instruction of the Kazakh President.

"International Agency Standard & Poor's raised credit rating on the Development Bank of Kazakhstan to BBB+," Prime Minister Karim Massimov stated.

"This morning we have heard good news that after the Agency Standard & Poor's raised Kazakhstan's sovereign rating it also decided to raise credit rating on the Development Bank of Kazakhstan," Massimov noted.

"In case of new wave of economic crisis development banks will play a key role in the economy, Kazakh Minister of Economic Development and Trade Kairat Kelimbetov said the conference.

According to him, DBK plays an important role in the SCO Interbank Association, which includes the world's biggest banks such as Vnesheconombank (Russia), China Development Bank.

"I think that in the future such powerful financial institutions can play a key role in case of new wave of global crisis," Kelimbetov noted.

"Over the ten years of its activity the Bank has attracted above 10 bln dollars in investments into the economy of Kazakhstan," Economic Development and Trade Minister of Kazakhstan Kairat Kelimbetov told.

"96 intergovernmental agreements have been signed since the establishment of the Customs Union," 1st Deputy Prime Minister of Kazakhstan Umirzak Shukeyev told on Thursday a roundtable on issues concerning the integration to the Customs Union and the Single Economic Space.

"96 intergovernmental agreements on tariffs and non-tariff regulation measures have been signed since the establishment of the Customs Union. Above 800 decisions on agreements in the sphere of technical regulation, customs and tax administration have been taken, 100 documents have been elaborated to form the legal base of the CU and SES," Shukeyev said.  

"Of 96 intergovernmental agreements signed while developing a legal framework for the Customs Union 42 have been ratified so far." Kazakh Minister for Economic Integration Zhanar Aitzhanova told during a roundtable on the issues of CU and SES (Single Economic Space) integration on Thursday in Astana.

According to the Minister, the CU's legal framework can be divided into four main groups. The agreements governing the measures of tariff and non-tariff regulation, agreements in the field of technical regulation (the application of sanitary, phytosanitary and veterinary measures), agreements in the field of customs and tax administration, as well as institutional and technical agreements - agreement on the Commission of the Customs Union and the treaty on the CU Secretariat.

"I would like to note that in addition to these agreements, there were signed 17 more documents, which are aimed not only to ensure the free movement of goods between our three countries, but also to ensure the free movement of services, capital, skilled labor, equal access to the infrastructure of the CU participating countries," Aitzhanova said.

Our first and main trading partner in the world is Russia. Kazakh Minister for Economic Integration Zhanar Aitzhanova said.

She noted that in the first half of 2011 the share of Kazakh products in Russia's trade turnover increased from USD 3.5 billion to USD 5.4 billion.

"In the first half of 2011 the volume of trade with the Customs Union member states increased by 44% and made up 18.7% of the total trade turnover of Kazakhstan," the Minister noted. "Speaking of bilateral trade with the countries of the Customs Union, it should be noted that it is correlated with the overall dynamics of foreign trade. Thus, the turnover between Kazakhstan and Russia and Belarus in 2010 grew by 40.3%, or USD 5.2 billion, and made up USD 18.1 billion."

The Agreement on Eurasian Economic Commission is to be signed in mid-November within the Customs Union and Single Economic Space, Minister for Economic Integration Zhanar Aitzhanova made it public.

The Agreement on Eurasian Economic Commission is under development.

An international exhibition TransitKazakhstan-2011 opened on Thursday at the Palace of Independence.

Kazakh Minister of Transport and Communications Berik Kamaliyev noted in his opening speech that the main purpose of the exhibition is to promote Kazakhstan's transit potential and its role in ensuring smooth and safe transport links in the Euro-Asian space.

According to him, the achievements of transport enterprises and companies presented at the exhibition show that today the Eurasian region has a great potential to meet the growing demand for transport services.

Located in the heart of major traffic flows of the Eurasian continent Kazakhstan is a strategic partner of many countries, as evidenced by participation in the exhibition of transport companies from 13 countries such as China, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, Uzbekistan.

"60 infrastructure projects totaling USD 19 billion are planned to be carried out under the state program of transport infrastructure development for 2010-2014," Kazakh Minister of Transport and Communication Berik Kamaliyev told the eighth international conference Transeurasia-2011 on Thursday.

According to Kamaliyev, it is planned to build about 1500 kilometers of roads, electrify 1700 kilometers of railroads, build and reconstruct about 50 thousand kilometers of highways, modernize airport infrastructure, develop national merchant marine, infrastructure of sea ports.

The same day Kazakh Minister of Transport and Communications Berik Kamaliyev held a meeting with Bulgarian Minister of Transport, Information Technology and Communications Ivaylo Moskovski.

Kamaliyev told about Kazakhstan's program of forced industrial innovative development for 2010-2014, particularly the development of transport sector. Kazakhstan is carrying out several big projects on development of transit potential. They are the construction of railway lines Korgas-Zhetygen, Uzen-state border with Turkmenistan, international transport corridor Western Europe - Western China, formation of special economic zone "Khorgos - East Gate". The Minister invited the Bulgarian side to take part in the construction of terminals in Khorgos.

In the field of civil aviation the two sides signed the agreement on air services, which has not yet entered into force due to the necessity of ratification. Kamaliyev confirmed the readiness to consider the establishment of direct flights.

The first International Transport-Logistics Business Forum "Silk Road 2011" opened in Astana today, November 11.

"Transportation logistics is a strategic priority. This term appeared in our vocabulary because we are moving away from simple transport system and getting ready to use the trans-logistics," Kazakh Minister of Industry and New Technologies Asset Issekeshev said in his opening speech.

The Minister reminded that the President of Kazakhstan set the task to make Kazakhstan a trade- logistics and business hub by 2016, which means a significant growth in trans-logistics services.

Over the last decade the volume of external trade of Kazakhstan has increased sixfold.

"Kazakhstan's production is supplied to more than 120 countries of the world. Kazakhstan is actively integrating in the world economy and works on all directions," he noted.

On Friday Kazakh Foreign Minister Yerzhan Kazykhanov received OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities Knut Vollebaek in Astana.

The sides discussed the status and prospects of cooperation between Kazakhstan and the High Commissioner's office.

Kazykhanov noted that Kazakhstan attached much importance to the issues of interethnic and inter-religious accord.

He thanked Mr. Knut Vollebaek for the support during the year of Kazakhstan's presidency over OSCE.

"Kazakhstan has played an important role as the OSCE chairman. And this year this country chairs the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation. With Mr. Kazykhanov we discussed the chairmanship of Kazakhstan in such influential organizations in the past and this year," the High Commissioner told a briefing.

He also thanked the Kazakh side for open dialogue and sustained efforts to strengthen inter-ethnic harmony in the country. K. Vollebaek also expressed confidence in further development of stable relationships.

"Kazakhstan can help OSCE play more important role in the Central Asian region," OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities Knut Vollebaek told a briefing after his meeting with Kazakh Foreign Minister Yerzhan Kazykhanov.

According to him, the stability of a society depends on the extent of integration of different ethnic groups into it.

The High Commissioner noted that during the meeting the sides discussed the issues of education for national minorities, in particular, projects implemented in southern Kazakhstan. He noted that with Kazakhstan's participation this work can be extended to the entire Central Asian region.

Today in Astana Kazakh Foreign Affairs Minister Yerzhan Kazykhanov met also with visiting secretary general of the Economic Cooperation Organization Mohammed Maroofi. 

According to Kazykhanov, since the accession to the Organization for Economic Cooperation Kazakhstan as an active participant of cooperation process has entirely supports the initiatives of the member states aimed at realization of  "The ECO prospects 2015" action program.