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Kazakhstan and South Korea

Kazakhstan and South Korea Strengthen Strategic Partnership During Yoon Suk Yeol’s State Visit

President Yoon Suk Yeol of the Republic of Korea is on a state visit to Kazakhstan, marking a significant step in the long-term partnership between the two nations. Diplomatic relations between Kazakhstan and South Korea were established on January 28, 1992, and have since flourished across various sectors, particularly in foreign investment and trade.

During a visit to New York in September 2023, Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev met with President Yoon to discuss the future of the Kazakh-Korean strategic partnership. President Tokayev highlighted the friendly relations and dynamic economic ties between the two countries, emphasizing the potential for cooperation in mining rare earth metals and nuclear energy development.

President Yoon reiterated South Korea’s interest in deepening mutually beneficial cooperation with Kazakhstan, noting Korean companies’ eagerness to expand existing projects and initiate new ventures in mechanical engineering, mining, and nuclear energy.

Trade and Investment

South Korea ranks among the top ten investors in Kazakhstan, standing sixth in terms of investment volume. Over the past 18 years, South Korea has invested approximately $9.2 billion in Kazakhstan, with a gross inflow of $1.2 billion in 2023 alone. However, trade between the two nations saw a significant decline in the first four months of 2024, with trade turnover amounting to $1.4 billion, down 44% from the same period last year.

Kazakhstan’s main exports to South Korea include oil, ferroalloys, titanium, uranium, rolled unalloyed steel, iron, and gold. In contrast, imports from South Korea encompass wires and cables, distribution boards, metal products, vehicle bodies, and cars.

Currently, five projects worth $1.5 billion are in progress, with another 25 promising projects valued at about $500 million in development. Notably, a new KIA plant in Kostanay, with an investment of $190 million and a production capacity of 70,000 vehicles per year, exemplifies the robust economic cooperation.

Nuclear Energy Collaboration

South Korea has expressed its readiness to assist Kazakhstan in constructing a nuclear power plant. Representatives from Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power (KHNP) have indicated that Doosan Group and Hyundai Engineering & Construction will undertake the construction, with KHNP managing the operations. Kazakhstan’s Energy Minister, Almasadam Satkaliev, recently confirmed that Korea, Russia, China, and France have all passed pre-qualification for this significant project.

Green Economy and Ecology

Kazakhstan and South Korea collaborate within international organizations such as the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI), the Asian Forestry Cooperation Organization (AFoCO), and the Green Climate Fund (GCF). AFoCO has pledged to aid Kazakhstan in forest restoration and fire prevention efforts. South Korea’s experience in planting 11 billion trees and restoring 2.5 million hectares of land over 50-60 years serves as a valuable model for Kazakhstan.

Strengthening Friendship

In May, the spring festival of Central Asian countries in South Korea, organized by the Central Asia – Republic of Korea Cooperation Forum secretariat, highlighted the importance of strengthening regional ties. The Kazakh chamber choir from the Aktobe regional philharmonic, named after Gaziza Zhubanova, delivered a memorable performance, underscoring the cultural connections between the nations.

President Yoon Suk Yeol’s state visit to Kazakhstan reflects the deepening strategic partnership between the two countries. With ongoing projects, expanding trade, and collaborative efforts in green energy and nuclear power, the future of Kazakh-Korean relations looks promising.

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Mr. Muhammad Ali Pasha is an analyst and expert on Central Asia, South East Asia, China, Türkiye and Middle East having experience in the field of article writing in various renowned journals and newspapers across the globe. Furthermore, he is a writer and poet.