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Monday, 04 July 2022 12:12 GMT

Kazakhstan To Be Among Alternative Suppliers Of Oil And Gas For EU - Head Of Delegation (Interview)


(MENAFN- Trend News Agency)

BAKU, Azerbaijan, June 10. Kazakhstan will be in demand among the EU countries as an alternative supplier of oil and gas, Head of EU Delegation to Kazakhstan Kestutis Jankauskas told Trend .

Jankauskas noted that the European Commission recently presented the REPowerEU Plan, which is a response to the hardships and global energy market disruption caused by the situation in Ukraine.

'There is a double urgency to transform Europe's energy system: ending the EU's dependence on Russian fossil fuels, which are used as an economic and political weapon, and tackling the climate crisis. The measures in the REPowerEU Plan can respond to this ambition, through energy savings, diversification of energy supplies, and accelerated roll-out of renewable energy to replace fossil fuels in homes, industry, and power generation,' he explained.

'We count on Kazakhstan to continue close cooperation in diversifying energy supplies, sustainable mining, developing renewable energy and the green hydrogen economy, and improving connectivity, including via the Middle Corridor, to the mutual benefit of Kazakhstan and the EU,' he said.

He also noted that the EU is interested in diversifying energy supplies, phasing out coal, and developing new sustainable energy supply sources such as green hydrogen.

'Kazakhstan is a part of this global effort. Kazakhstan already is a major energy supplier to the EU and contributes towards the diversification of supply sources for the EU markets. Over 70 percent of its oil exports are going to the EU (6 percent of EU oil demand). Kazakhstan is also an important supplier of fuel for some of Europe's N-plants,' he said.

Jankauskas added that while the Russian oil and gas will be phased-out from the EU market, there will be more demand for alternative suppliers, and Kazakhstan is definitely among them.

'While hydrocarbons may play an important transitional role in the energy mix, the real future belongs to renewable energy sources, where Kazakhstan has also a lot to offer. Some projects to harness wind and solar power are already underway with leading European producers. We are also interested in cooperation on green hydrogen, as well as materials that are necessary for the green economy,' he said.

He also noted that there are significant opportunities to enhance Kazakhstan-EU cooperation in the agriculture and forestry sectors.

For example, he said, Kazakhstan plays a key role in regional and global supplies of wheat.

'Productivity and sustainability can be improved in cooperation with the EU on digitalization, modern technologies and efficient land use, making the sector safer, healthier and more resilient, developing organic agriculture, and improving water management. The improved sanitary and phytosanitary system can help expand the range of agricultural products that Kazakhstan could export. There is also a strong interest in cooperation on forestation, management of forests and forest industry,' Jankauskas noted.

He explained that European companies are actively supplying breeding animals and quality seeds to Kazakhstan, operating greenhouses, and export agricultural machinery.

'We hope that announced reforms and the new impetus to improve the investment climate and ensure transparent business conditions will encourage more European companies to invest in and trade with Kazakhstan. The EU already is Kazakhstan's main trading partner ‒ representing 40 percent of its external trade, and also the first foreign investor in the country. The EU has been consistently sharing with Kazakhstan its best practices and standards, and will continue to do so,' Jankauskas said.

Commenting on areas of economic cooperation that will be on the agenda of Kazakhstan-EU relations in the near future, Jankauskas noted that the short answer is“all areas”.

'It is indeed so, because the new Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement between European Union and Kazakhstan, in force since 2020, covers all 29 areas of the economy and cooperation. We already started working together on the full implementation of this important agreement,' he said.

He noted that at the moment, with economic and financial sanctions against Russia in place, it is important for everyone to enhance and develop alternative ways of connectivity between Kazakhstan and the EU, EU and Central Asia, and Europe and Asia in general.

'That connectivity concerns not only transport, infrastructure and cargo handling, but also digital, e-commerce and most importantly – people-to-people relations,' he pointed out.

'In the years and decades to come, the EU will be focusing on the green transition of our entire economies. This opens up huge new opportunities for cooperation with Kazakhstan. We need partners in our quest to stop climate change, and Kazakhstan would benefit from Western technologies, energy efficiency, refurbished grids, and new electricity generation and storage capabilities,' he said.

Kazakhstan is naturally a rich country, but well-planned investment into the manufacturing of added-value products on the spot would help more sustainable economic development, Jankauskas said.

'We strongly encourage the Government to pursue structural reforms, increase competitiveness, and reduce the state's footprint in the economy. Crucial in this regard is the development of MSMEs as the backbone of the economy, ensuring that a competitive and transparent banking system would be able to provide affordable loans and involve more women in business. The EU, its Member States and the European banks (EBRD, EIB) are increasingly active in this area. We also back several projects that facilitate trade and closer cooperation in the Central Asia region and with the EU,' Jankauskas said.

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