ASTANA: After years of dilly-dallying, India is finally set to push trade and investment ties with resource-rich Kazakhstan, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi eyeing mining, mineral and oil & gas projects during his two-day trip here beginning on Tuesday, seeking to overcome the geographical advantage that China has in the region. Modi will be in Kazakhstan, the second destination on his Central Asia tour, hoping to boost connectivity with the landlocked country and reap the full potential of a business partnership between the two nations, government sources told ET. An economic roadmap for bilateral cooperation is expected to be unveiled on Wednesday following talks between Modi and Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev. The two sides have identified 64 projects for cooperation over the next few years.
ET had earlier reported that a uranium supply deal from Kazakhstan to India will be renewed during Modi’s visit. Besides oil, natural gas and uranium, Central Asia’s biggest country is rich in minerals ranging from potash and magnesium to bauxite, zinc and copper. “It has everything that India needs but a major constraint is that Kazakhstan is a landlocked country.
This has also not allowed growth in trade ties with India despite solid bilateral political ties,” an Indian government source told ET. “India is also pushing to make Chabahar port in Iran operational, which will link with the Kazakh-Turkmen-Iran rail network, besides boosting the International North-South Corridor between India, Iran and Russia for better transportation with Kazakhstan.” The Kazakh government wants to expand its ties beyond traditional partners Russia and China. The sanctions on Russia, following the Ukraine crisis, have also affected Kazakhstan.
Moscow’s business ties with Kazakhstan are a legacy of the former Soviet Union. The decline in oil prices last year didn’t help the Kazakhs. Nazarbayev wants to maintain the country’s economic growth story for 17 million Kazakh citizens.