The construction of the International Trade and Economic Center (ITEC) on the border of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan will allow modernizing the infrastructure of international trade, production and logistics in the border areas of the two countries, a representative of Ministry of National Economy of Kazakhstan told Trend in an interview.
The representative said that the Center would enable business circles of the two countries to quickly and conveniently carry out trade operations, create joint ventures and carry out profitable and safe transport and logistics operations.
Secondly, it is planned to create more than 10,000 jobs during the operational period of the project, i.e. during the construction of the ITEC facilities and after their commissioning. Thirdly, this will allow taking border and transit trade to the next level and increase tax collection to the local and republican budgets of both countries. Spontaneous markets, which are currently working at the checkpoint "Zhibek Zholy", do not allow to fully ensuring order and security, the representative said.
Fourthly, the Ministry of National Economy explains, such a trade format will stimulate and strengthen interregional business cooperation through the creation of joint ventures, attracting mutual investments, holding exhibitions, fairs, business forums and other events.
Moreover, the creation of such a Center will allow two states to further develop international tourism in the cities of Central Asia along the Silk Road.
On April 15, 2019, during the visit of President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev to Uzbekistan, a Memorandum was signed in Tashkent between the authorized agencies on the establishment of the International Trade and Economic Center (ITEС).
The priorities of ITEС are to create a new modern checkpoint, build wholesale and retail trade facilities and adjacent infrastructure and create a transport and logistics center.
According to the Ministry, there are a number of reasons for establishing the Center. Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan are the largest markets in Central Asia with total population reaching more than 50 million people and the recognized leaders in trade in the region. There are two largest agglomerations namely Shymkent and Tashkent located close to the border, whereas the railway station Saryagash, the international checkpoint "Zhibek Zholy" and the highway "Western Europe - Western China" in close proximity can become part of the Center’s infrastructure.
The existing significant potential for the development of tourism, transport and telecommunications services is another driving force behind the project. Finally, there is a huge potential for increasing international trade through the Center, as both countries are the main participants in the emerging "North-South" transport and transit corridor, which connects the largest markets of Central and South Asia with the richest regions of Europe, Ural, Siberia and the Far East. Alongside the modernized Konysbayev - Yallama checkpoint, ITEС will be one of the key elements of this corridor.
While answering Trend’s question about the Center's contribution to the development of the regions of the two countries located at the border, the Ministry representative replied that good-neighborly relations developed between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan provide a solid foundation for the development of cross-border cooperation in the new format.
According to the information provided, 1st Forum of Interregional Cooperation held In November last year demonstrated great business interest from the regions of the two countries. The emphasis in the economic cooperation shall be put on enhancing industrial cooperation and implementation of joint investment projects.
It was noted that the last two years became a breakthrough for strengthening trade and economic relations between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. The key role in achievement was played by the leaders of the two countries. The political dynamics of last year’s bilateral contacts opened a fundamentally new page in the joint history of cooperation. Fruitful contacts at the highest level gave a powerful impetus to all the vectors of mutual relations
"The decision of Uzbekistan to reduce excise taxes on various imported goods was a positive step towards intensifying trade cooperation. Based on the existing positive experience, we will continue to make efforts in this direction," said the Ministry spokesperson.
There are more than 420 joint ventures and more than 1,000 companies with Uzbek capital in Kazakhstan.
"We are convinced that our friendship supported by joint efforts to uncover the inexhaustible potential of bilateral cooperation, will be the key to fruitful Kazakh-Uzbek partnership in a wide range of areas and the cornerstone for strengthening stability and cooperation in the region," the representative of the Ministry emphasized.
During the visit of the President of Uzbekistan to Kazakhstan on March 22-23, 2017, an agreement was reached on increasing trade turnover to $ 5 billion by 2020. In the meantime, meetings of ad hoc working group and regular expert consultations on mutual increase in commodity turnover between the two countries are regularly held.
The intensification of bilateral trade and economic cooperation is confirmed by indicators of foreign trade. At the end of 2018, bilateral trade amounted to $ 2.5 billion, an increase of more than 25 percent over last year. In the first two months of 2019, the volume of mutual trade amounted to $ 433.5 million, with an increase of 16.5 percent.
Uzbekistan remains the largest trading partner of Kazakhstan in the Central Asian region, as its share comprises more than 50 percent of the total volume of the Kazakhstan’s trade with the countries of Central Asia.
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