India, Kazakhstan agree to further strengthen defence cooperation

• India and Kazakhstan today agreed to further strengthen defence cooperation as External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj met the country’s top leaders to discuss ways to consolidate the strategic partnership in areas like trade, energy, security and information technology.

• Swaraj is on a three-nation tour to Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan as part of India’s efforts to boost strategic partnership with the resource-rich central Asian nations.

• She held delegation-level talks with her Kazakh counterpart Kairat Abdrakhmanov.

• The two leaders held a comprehensive discussion on deepening cooperation in trade and investment, defence and security, energy, Information and Communications Technology (ITC), pharma, capacity building and culture.

• Kazakhstan is India’s largest trade and investment partner in Central Asia.

• She also called on Prime Minister of Kazakhstan, Bakytzhan Sagintayev and exchanged views on strengthening cooperation in trade and investment, ICT, joint film production, tourism and people-to-people contacts.

• Swaraj said during her meeting with Abdrakhmanov they discussed the full range of bilateral, regional and global issues of mutual interest.

• “We took stock of progress in our bilateral relations. India’s relations with Kazakhstan are built on a strong foundation of centuries-old historical and cultural ties.”

• Swaraj said during her talks with Abdrakhmanov she sought to consolidate and further strengthen India’s friendly relations with Kazakhstan.

• Kazakh Armed Forces Unit underwent training on peacekeeping operations in India and presently a mobile training team from the Indian Army is training Kazakh personnel in Almaty.

• Swaraj said India has emerged as the fastest-growing large economy in the world and is a global hub for manufacturing and innovation.

• “India has launched several flagship programmes such as ‘Make in India’, ‘Digital India’, ‘Clean India’, Startup India, 100 smart cities etc. I shared with Foreign Minister Abdrakhmanov that there are many elements of Digital India programme that could be of interest to Kazakhstan for its own Digital Kazakhstan programme,” she said.

• She also discussed with Abdrakhmanov India’s interest to partner with Kazakhstan to explore markets for new products, diversifying from the trade in traditional products to inject fresh impetus to the trade between the two countries.

• There is immense potential to be tapped in sectors like agricultural products, food processing, pharmaceuticals, energy and chemicals, she said.

• The major products imported by India during 2016-17 were petroleum oils & oils obtained from bituminous minerals (64.5 per cent); radioactive isotopes (18.5 per cent); asbestos (6.0 per cent), ferroalloys (3.9 per cent) and zinc (3.0 per cent). Major products exported to Kazakhstan were Pharmaceuticals and medical products, coffee and tea, machinery, apparel and chemical products.

• Cumulative investments from India into Kazakhstan and from Kazakhstan into India from 2005 -2016 amount to USD 244 million and USD 83.09 million respectively. As on March 1, 2017, there were 520 Indian companies registered in Kazakhstan, out of which 259 are operational.

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