Kazakhstan-EU relations: From establishing the partnership to driving it forward

Kazakhstan’s first President, Nursultan Nazarbayev, is given credit for being instrumental in helping to establish Kazakh-EU relations. He helped lay the foundations for the landmark EU-Kazakhstan Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (EPCA), which entered into force on 1 March 2020.

The EU is Kazakhstan’s main trade and investment partner, representing over one third of Kazakhstan’s external trade and over a half of total foreign direct investment in Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan’s exports to the EU are almost entirely in the oil and gas sectors, alongside other minerals, chemicals and food products. From the EU, Kazakhstan imports machinery and transport equipment and pharmaceuticals, alongside chemical products, plastics, medical devices and furniture.

Kazakh-EU relations have significantly strengthened in the last two decades and go beyond trade and investment ties or political dialogue. The EU and Kazakhstan succeeded in establishing other successful cooperation in areas such as energy, transport, environment, research and security.

As the EU is working to make relations with Central Asia stronger and deeper, Kazakhstan continues to play a key role in the process. At a recent meeting of the Cooperation Committee, the EU and Kazakhstan discussed the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the importance of strengthened multilateralism. They also discussed the EU-Central Asia regional cooperation, including in the fields of security, counter-terrorism, fighting drug trafficking, and border management.

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