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 Middle (AIFC), and Minister of Business and Infrastructure Kairbek Uskenbayev, amongst others. In line with 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 have interaction Southeast Asia.”
Extra conferences between the 2 governments included negotiations for the Companies and Funding (S&I) Settlement, underneath the Eurasian Financial Union-Singapore Free Commerce Settlement, to “increase 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 better evaluation. The present world state of affairs supplies alternatives for brand new partnerships, significantly concerning commerce and funding. Living proof, as a result of Europe’s urge for food for vitality from the Caucasus and Central Asia and the need to keep away from Russian territory and scale back reliance on Russian vitality, the Trans-Caspian Worldwide Transport Route (TITR) has turn into more and more enticing. 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 increase the capabilities of the Center Hall. One instance is Singapore.
In April, Kazakhstan’s Deputy Minister of Business and Infrastructure Improvement 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 helpful as Aktau Sea Industrial Port, Kazakhstan’s major port, transports items throughout to the Baku Worldwide Sea Port in Azerbaijan. This hyperlink is arguably the cornerstone of the Center Hall.
One other latest transportation-related assembly occurred in August. In the course of 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,” mentioned Kazakhstan’s international ministry.
Furthermore, in the course of the August go to, the 2 governments inaugurated the Kazakhstan-Singapore Enterprise Council. How efficient this Council can be at fomenting commerce and funding stays to be seen.
Thus, what seems to be occurring is a rapprochement between Kazakhstan and Singapore primarily based on funding alternatives within the commerce and commerce sector, significantly associated to transportation and the Center Hall.
Extra funding and business partnerships would convey 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. In line with the Singaporean Ministry of International Affairs, the final senior go to to Central Asia was made by then-Senior Minister of State (Commerce and Business) Dr. Koh Poh Koon, who visited Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan in 2020. (Poh Koon is now Senior Minister of State for Sustainability and the Surroundings). To be honest, the COVID-19 pandemic probably prevented new visits all through 2020 and 2021. In Singapore, Kazakhstani Ambassador Arken Arystanov, met on June 16 with Minister for Social and Household Improvement Masagos Zulkifli.
In 2021, bilateral commerce reached $813 million ($773 million in exports from Kazakhstan and $40 million in imports). In the meantime, Singaporean international direct funding reached $983.9 million final yr, with 119 authorized entities and different workplaces from Singapore registered within the Central Asian nation. In different phrases, there may be loads of house for progress.
Nearer Kazakhstan-Singapore relations won’t dramatically alter regional geopolitics. The cornerstone of this potential rapprochement seems to be widespread funding pursuits regarding transportation, relatively than protection points. Nonetheless, much-needed funding from Singapore in Kazakhstan, significantly in transportation infrastructure like Aktau Port, would profit Nur-Sultan and the Center Hall and may very well be very worthwhile for Singaporean corporations.