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There has always been a special temperature in relations between the two neighboring states, which makes it possible to expand the points of contact and achieve joint progress. The countries' efforts to strengthen ties have now entered a new phase. The intensification of bilateral cooperation is taking place, including in such areas as politics, economics, regional and border cooperation.
President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev decided to open in Samarkand, one of the most ancient cities of Central Asia, the Consulate General of the Republic of Kazakhstan in Uzbekistan, and for the government, consequently, to take all the necessary measures for this. This is an important indicator of the strengthening of bilateral diplomatic relations. Earlier, in 2018 in Almaty and in 2019 in Aktau, Consulates General of the Republic of Uzbekistan were opened in Kazakhstan.
Every day the news feeds are more and more full of messages characterizing the positive dynamics of Kazakh-Uzbek cooperation. In addition, the focus today is on regional integration and a common agenda for the countries of Central Asia. In particular, it became one of the most important topics that were raised in their speeches at the 75th session of the UN General Assembly by the head of state Kassym-Jomart Tokayev and his colleague, Uzbek leader Shavkat Mirziyoyev. «At the moment, Central Asia is undergoing a rapid transformation thanks to a significant expansion of interaction between the countries of the region in various fields,» the President of Kazakhstan emphasized in his video message, which was broadcast in New York at the UN.
Earlier, within the same walls, at the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly, one of the international initiatives of the head of the Uzbek state, Shavkat Mirziyoyev, on convening consultative meetings of the heads of state of Central Asia was announced. The first meeting took place in the capital of Kazakhstan in March 2018, the second in Tashkent in November 2019. As a result, a joint statement was adopted, in which it was noted that «the tendency for regional rapprochement that has developed in Central Asia is a historically conditioned reality.» Now, according to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Uzbekistan Abdulaziz Kamilov, the countries of the region are jointly preparing a five-sided interstate document on friendship, good-neighborliness and cooperation for the development of Central Asia in the 21st century.
At the end of September, a working meeting of the First President of the Republic of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev and the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan took place in the border town of Saryagash, Turkestan region, where they discussed the current state and prospects of Kazakh-Uzbek strategic partnership relations.
Earlier, according to the instructions of the Kazakh government, official humanitarian aid was sent to the population of the Syrdarya region of Uzbekistan, affected by the flood. In Nur-Sultan, the issues of increasing the frequency of flights from one to two times a week on the Tashkent-Almaty route and the resumption of flights on the Tashkent-Nur-Sultan route, as well as the opening of new flights on the routes: Turkestan-Samarkand, Taraz-Nukus and Aktau were considered — Urgench. This is still not easy to do during the coronavirus pandemic, however, recently Kazakhstan opened a «green corridor» for Uzbeks who are stuck on the Kazakh-Russian border. The leadership of Kazakhstan showed understanding and provided support in difficult times by providing railway and road corridors for the citizens of the neighboring state. In spite of everything, life goes on, and in order to strengthen bilateral trade relations, the Zoom online platform hosted the MadeinUzbekistanOnline exhibition with the participation of more than 90 business representatives from Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, organized by the Chamber of Commerce of the Republic of Kazakhstan and the Export Promotion Agency under the Ministry of Investment and Foreign Trade of the Republic of Uzbekistan.
According to the State Statistical Committee of the Republic of Uzbekistan, in January-August 2020, the country's foreign trade turnover with Kazakhstan amounted to 1.765 billion US dollars, of which exports amounted to 553.9 million, and imports — 1.211 billion. The positive balance of Kazakhstan in trade with Uzbekistan amounted to more than 657 , 1 million dollars, which is 78% more than in the same period last year (368.7 million dollars). Taking into account this indicator, Kazakhstan ranks third in the foreign trade turnover of Uzbekistan, Kursiv.kz reports. Uzbekistan this year increased its import of gasoline 30 times, 90.1 million liters were imported to the country, which is 87 million liters more compared to the same period in 2019. The production of its gasoline in Uzbekistan is falling, and Kazakhstan has become the leader in its supply (47.7 million liters).
The share of Kazakhstan in the total commodity turnover of Uzbekistan, according to 2019 data, is about 8%. According to Kazakh statistics, the turnover for the year amounted to about $ 2.8 billion (excluding gas and services). At the same time, exports from Kazakhstan amounted to about $ 2 billion, imports to Kazakhstan — $ 771.2 million. The main export products of Kazakhstan are foodstuffs, metals, energy carriers, cattle, petroleum products, chemical products and building materials. Uzbekistan supplies Kazakhstan with natural gas, fruits and vegetables, textiles, ferrous and non-ferrous metals, machinery, chemical products and plastics, and construction materials. The heads of state have set the task of achieving a mutual trade indicator of up to 5 billion US dollars.
Cooperation in the financial sector is expanding. Last year, a representative office of the export-insurance company KazakhExport was opened in Tashkent, and the Kazakh bank Tenge Bank received a license to carry out banking operations in Uzbekistan. Financial and insurance support for export-import operations is an important element in stimulating trade relations and investment.
Since 1997, meetings of the Joint Intergovernmental Commission on bilateral cooperation between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan have been regularly held. The active interaction of the regions served as the basis for the formation of a new cooperation platform — the Forum of Interregional Cooperation between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. The first Forum was held in November 2018 in Shymkent, the second — in February 2020 in the city of Urgench. These events laid a good foundation for deepening interaction between the two countries at the regional level.
Before the era of the fight against the pandemic, high rates of cooperation in the transport sector were demonstrated, which in turn opened up new prospects for cooperation in the field of tourism. The two countries have launched new bus routes and flights between their cities. In general, trade and economic cooperation has prospects for their further development. A promising area of interaction is the deepening of industrial cooperation, the opening of joint ventures in the textile, fruit and vegetable, livestock and construction sectors.
Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan can be classified as the most important strategic partners in Central Asia. Both states are linked by common historical, geographical, cultural, religious and linguistic roots and have a fairly long common border of 2203 km. Kazakhstan is almost six times larger in area (2,724,900 sq. Km) than Uzbekistan (447,400 sq. Km), but half its population.
Diplomatic relations between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan were established on November 23, 1992. The bilateral legal framework currently includes 220 joint documents in various fields of activity. The fundamental documents were the Agreement on Eternal Friendship between the Republic of Kazakhstan and the Republic of Uzbekistan, signed in 1998 and the Agreement on Strategic Partnership of 2013. The parties have repeatedly exchanged high-level visits. Active joint work was carried out by the foreign ministries of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. In particular, in February 2020, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan Mukhtar Tleuberdi took part in the ministerial meeting of the «C5 + 1» format in Tashkent.
An important issue in relations is the completion of the process of demarcation of the state border between the Republic of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. This work was carried out on the basis of the Agreement on the Kazakh-Uzbek State Border, signed in November 2001. After the signing of the Agreement on the junction of the three countries (Samarkand, November 2017), the border between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan was recognized as fully delimited.
The nature of relations between Kazakhstan and its closest neighbor creates conditions for multi-format cooperation, in which cross-border interaction is especially highlighted. The world experience of the development of modern states shows that border regions significantly affect their economic growth. It is at the interregional and border levels that real cooperation between countries is being laid.
The Kazakhstan border area is located in the center of Eurasia, the role of logistics is high here, it is not profitable to carry many goods over long distances, therefore Kazakhstan continues to be one of the main trading partners for its neighbors. There is also a strong interpenetration of investments in the borderlands. At the end of 2018, First President Nursultan Nazarbayev said that the two states are discussing the creation of a center for cross-border cooperation by analogy with the Kazakh-Chinese International Center for Cross-Border Cooperation «Khorgos». The parties signed a memorandum of understanding on the establishment of the International Center for Trade and Economic Cooperation «Central Asia». An interdepartmental working group has been established. The new facilities are designed to simplify the logistics system between the two states, as well as to enhance cooperation between border regions.
As the Minister of Trade and Integration of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Bakhyt Sultanov, emphasized at the reporting meeting with the population, «to date, the corresponding Roadmap between our specialized departments has already been signed, a specific place has been determined in the area of the Zhibek Zholy checkpoint. According to him, the construction will take about 2-3 years. «The most important thing is that processing centers will be located here, which will allow us to strengthen the indicators of mutual trade,» he said.
In general, the Uzbek vector of cooperation remains one of the key priorities of Kazakhstan's foreign policy. Cooperation between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan has a positive dynamic. The legal framework of bilateral relations covers almost all of its spheres. The trade turnover is quite stable, a full-fledged free trade regime is in place. The two states have one goal — to preserve peace in the region and comprehensively develop close good-neighborly ties.
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