The Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement, the main document framing relations between the EU and Kazakhstan, enters into force on 1 March 2020. It provides a reinforced and updated legal framework for further strengthening trade and economic relations, and development of bilateral relations in 29 key policy areas. A regular high-level platform for dialogue on economic and business matters, set up in July 2019, draws the Prime Minister’s and ministers’ attention to issues of high importance for the EU, its Member States and invited businesses; it is about delivering concrete results and solving acute issues for businesses. Going carbon-neutral by 2050 has become an overarching strategic goal of the EU. It will transform our entire economies and impact our partners around the world. But it also opens new business and trade opportunities.
Kazakhstan and the EU are closer than we think. Did you know that when you are in Aktau, you are actually closer to Nicosia in Cyprus than to Almaty? When you are in the most Western point of Kazakhstan, you are closer to Romania or to the Baltic States than to Nur-Sultan.
So, it is very natural that a few years ago we have decided to go one step further in our relation and strengthen our cooperation. In December 2015 the European Union and Kazakhstan signed a unique agreement called the Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (EPCA), the main document framing our relations. It has been provisionally implemented since May 2016 and provides significant boost to economic and political ties between the EU and Kazakhstan. The Agreement enters into force on 1 March 2020.
The EPCA provides a reinforced and updated legal framework for further strengthening trade and economic relations, and development of bilateral relations in 29 key policy areas, including political dialogue, human rights, energy, transport, environment and climate change, employment and social affairs, culture, education and research.
There is much potential in the EU involvement in Kazakhstan and the region. It is now high time to translate those ambitious economic and political commitments into something concrete that people of the region can see and feel.
Bilateral, regional and global trade
The EPCA ensures the Most-Favoured-Nation treatment to goods and National Treatment for most economic activities. It contains comprehensive commitments in the area of intellectual property rights and government procurement. Many chapters go beyond Kazakhstan’s WTO commitments. The EPCA has extensive provisions on customs cooperation and also on technical regulations. The EPCA establishes full liberalisation for all types of capital movements, contains commitments related to fair competition, and incorporates the OECD’s corporate governance guidelines on State Owned Enterprises. The dispute settlement mechanism under the EPCA is much quicker than the WTO mechanism.
As part of the EU Central Asia Strategy adopted last year, we have launched new regional programmes to promote regional trade, enhance business competitiveness, and improve business environment and the rule of law. Our implementing partners are the International Trade Centre, the OECD and the Council of Europe.
In June 2020, all eyes in the global trade community will be on Kazakhstan, as it will chair and host the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Ministerial Conference. The EU backed Kazakhstan’s WTO accession and now calls on Kazakhstan, in its role as host to champion a multilateral approach to solve trade disputes. We are committed to a strong, open and fair trade agenda.
Partnering for Prosperity
The EU-Kazakhstan Cooperation Council – the steering body of the EPCA – met in the end of January in Brussels. Last September, the EU-Kazakhstan Cooperation Committee in Trade Configuration in Nur-Sultan provided an excellent opportunity to discuss a number of topics linked to the implementation of the trade title of EPCA.
We welcome the Kazakhstani government’s openness to expert advice to continue structural reforms and outward oriented economic policy to spur GDP growth and create jobs.
In July 2019, the EU and Kazakhstan have set up a high-level platform for dialogue on economic and business matters. The regular meetings draw the Prime Minister’s and ministers’ attention to issues of high importance for the EU, its Member States and invited businesses. It is a key part of the interaction between the biggest country in Central Asia and the biggest trading block and single market in the world, and this platform is about delivering concrete results and solving acute issues for businesses.
We also support the OECD recommendation to reduce the still very great role of the state in the economy. There are significant efficiency gains to be made in opening the network and infrastructure sectors to competition, addressing the regulation of electricity and gas tariffs, reducing barriers to trade and investment to create more incentives for an innovative, competitive and flexible economy. The EU will continue supporting Kazakhstan’s efforts in all these areas.
Going carbon-neutral by 2050 has become an overarching strategic goal of the EU. It will transform our entire economies and impact our partners around the world. But it also opens new business and trade opportunities.
Ultimately, by working together we can focus on what the World Bank named as a new growth model for building a secure middle class. We are happy to support Kazakhstan in this exercise, which shall multiply wealth for all, diversify the economy and provide decent jobs for the future generations.Related Topics