Joint Statement by Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird and Kazakhstan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Erlan Idrissov

November 14, 2013 - At the invitation of Erlan Idrissov, Kazakhstan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird paid an official visit to Astana on November 13, 2013. This visit is the first bilateral trip of a Canadian foreign minister to Kazakhstan.

The ministers highlighted the close partnership between Kazakhstan and Canada and held wide-ranging discussions on bilateral and multilateral issues of mutual interest.

Review of the bilateral agenda: The ministers noted with satisfaction that last year, the 20th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries, was marked by significant strengthening of bilateral cooperation through high-level exchanges, inter-parliamentary contacts and enhanced trade and economic ties.

The ministers agreed to consider exploring ways to further facilitate bilateral political and economic relations by tasking their own ministries’ senior officials to discuss issues of mutual interest, including those in the fields of legal cooperation, travel facilitation and trade enhancement, on a regular basis.

Economic, trade and investment cooperation: The ministers noted with great appreciation that trade, economic and investment cooperation lies at the root of broadening and deepening bilateral relations between the two countries. Kazakhstan is Canada’s leading merchandise trade partner among the Central Asian and Eastern European countries, while Canada is Kazakhstan’s leading merchandise trade partner in the Americas.

Minister Baird reaffirmed Canada’s support for Kazakhstan’s accession to the World Trade Organization, which is expected to enhance bilateral trade and economic linkages between Kazakhstan and Canada.

The ministers also agreed to encourage greater progress in the negotiation of a bilateral foreign investment promotion and protection agreement to provide a favourable environment for business and investment activities between the two countries. They appreciated the growth of agricultural cooperation and trade in such areas as cattle breeding, farm machinery, exchange of knowledge and new technologies in livestock production.

The ministers noted the role of provinces and territories, and regional and industry associations, in broadening economic and investment ties and indicated support for any interest Kazakhstan’s regions and Canada’s provinces and territories may have in further strengthening cooperation.

Energy: The ministers noted that Kazakhstan-Canadian cooperation in the uranium sector is gaining strategic importance and welcomed the signing of the bilateral intergovernmental Agreement on Cooperation in the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy. The agreement opens the doors for deeper cooperation between Canada’s leading uranium company Cameco Corp. and Kazakhstan’s national company Kazatomprom in the area of refining and further conversion of uranium ore to produce fuel for nuclear power plants. The Kazakhstan and Canadian governments look forward to the results of such cooperation in the form of mutually beneficial transfers of new technology and knowledge.

The two ministers reaffirmed their countries’ commitment to support and contribute to the development and deployment of clean energy technologies, the promotion of energy efficiency and energy security. In this regard, the ministers welcomed initiatives to promote sustainable growth including the Kazakhstan-sponsored Green Bridge Partnership Program.

Education: The ministers welcomed efforts in international education and partnerships, such as the one with the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology, which assists in the development of the Interregional Professional Training and Retraining Centre APEC-Petrotechnic (Atyrau Petroleum Educational Centre Petrotechnic) in Atyrau City.

Global security: The ministers reaffirmed their nations’ shared commitment to global security and their continued support for global efforts to prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction and to strengthen nuclear security. In this regard, both ministers agreed that the Iranian and North Korean nuclear issues were most deserving of international attention.

Kazakhstan’s past and current nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation efforts were highlighted as a crucial contribution to global security.

Freedom of religion: The ministers agreed to continue their cooperation to promote and protect freedom of religion. Kazakhstan’s hosting of a triennial Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions, and Canada’s establishment of the Office of Religious Freedom, demonstrate both countries’ commitment to the promotion of religious tolerance.

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