Kazakhstan and Singapore Look to Increase Financial Hyperlinks – The Diplomat

The Kazakhstani delegation that visited Singapore on August 14-17 had funding and commerce in thoughts. Aside from Minister of International Affairs Mukhtar Tileuberdi, different contributors included Kairat Kelimbetov, governor of the Astana Worldwide Monetary Heart (AIFC), and Minister of Trade and Infrastructure Kairbek Uskenbayev, amongst others. Based on the Singaporean Ministry of International Affairs, throughout a phone dialog between Singapore’s President Halimah Yacob and Tileuberdi, the top of state “inspired Kazakh corporations to make use of Singapore as a hub to interact Southeast Asia.”

Extra conferences between the 2 governments included negotiations for the Providers and Funding (S&I) Settlement, below the Eurasian Financial Union-Singapore Free Commerce Settlement, to “enhance financial hyperlinks between Singapore and Kazakhstan.” Furthermore, International Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan and Tileuberdi mentioned “methods to advertise bilateral cooperation and discover alternatives in Southeast Asia and Central Asia, together with in provide chain connectivity.”

Provide chain connectivity deserves larger evaluation. The present international state of affairs supplies alternatives for brand new partnerships, notably concerning commerce and funding. Living proof, on account of Europe’s urge for food for power from the Caucasus and Central Asia and the need to keep away from Russian territory and cut back reliance on Russian power, the Trans-Caspian Worldwide Transport Route (TITR) has turn into more and more engaging. The Center Hall, because the TITR is extra generally identified, is a three way partnership that brings collectively Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, and Turkey, in order that East-West and West-East commerce can happen between the Caucasus, Central Asia and Europe.

Because the Russian invasion of Ukraine commenced, governments and industries have been seeking to broaden the capabilities of the Center Hall. One instance is Singapore.

In April, Kazakhstan’s Deputy Minister of Trade and Infrastructure Growth Berik Kamaliev and Vice-President of Singapore’s PSA Worldwide firm Lee Peng Gee agreed to “create a container hub in Aktau port.” This settlement could be very useful as Aktau Sea Industrial Port, Kazakhstan’s important port, transports items throughout to the Baku Worldwide Sea Port in Azerbaijan. This hyperlink is arguably the cornerstone of the Center Hall.

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One other latest transportation-related assembly occurred in August. Throughout the aforementioned high-level journey, Kazakhstan’s nationwide railway firm Kazakhstan Temir Joly, signed a memorandum of cooperation with the Port of Singapore Authority, one of many flagship terminals of PSA Worldwide. The Singaporean firm’s involvement in transport and logistics hubs in Kazakhstan will “promote entry to a complete community of seaports on each side of the continent, integration into the worldwide transport and logistics chain, utilizing multimodal transport,” stated Kazakhstan’s overseas ministry.

Furthermore, in the course of the August go to, the 2 governments inaugurated the Kazakhstan-Singapore Enterprise Council. How efficient this Council will likely be at fomenting commerce and funding stays to be seen.

Thus, what seems to be occurring is a rapprochement between Kazakhstan and Singapore based mostly on funding alternatives within the commerce and commerce sector, notably associated to transportation and the Center Hall. 

Extra funding and business partnerships would carry Kazakhstan and Singapore nearer, the 2 states are at current distant pals. For instance, Kazakhstan has an embassy in Singapore, however Singapore solely has a honorary consulate in Nur-Sultan. Excessive-profile visits are uncommon. Based on the Singaporean Ministry of International Affairs, the final senior go to to Central Asia was made by then-Senior Minister of State (Commerce and Trade) Dr. Koh Poh Koon, who visited Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan in 2020. (Poh Koon is now Senior Minister of State for Sustainability and the Atmosphere). To be truthful, the COVID-19 pandemic seemingly prevented new visits all through 2020 and 2021. In Singapore, Kazakhstani Ambassador Arken Arystanov, met on June 16 with Minister for Social and Household Growth Masagos Zulkifli. 

In 2021, bilateral commerce reached $813 million ($773 million in exports from Kazakhstan and $40 million in imports). In the meantime, Singaporean overseas direct funding reached $983.9 million final 12 months, with 119 authorized entities and different places of work from Singapore registered within the Central Asian nation. In different phrases, there’s loads of house for development.

Nearer Kazakhstan-Singapore relations is not going to dramatically alter regional geopolitics. The cornerstone of this potential rapprochement seems to be frequent funding pursuits regarding transportation, quite than protection points. Nonetheless, much-needed funding from Singapore in Kazakhstan, notably in transportation infrastructure like Aktau Port, would profit Nur-Sultan and the Center Hall and could possibly be very worthwhile for Singaporean corporations.