|Kairat Torebaev, Vice Minister of Trade and Integration of the Republic of Kazakhstan (Photo credit: QazTrade)
Bao Tram: Thank you for taking the time with us! This is the first business forum between Kazakhstan and Vietnam since the COVID shutdown. How important is this for bilateral trade?
Kairat Torebaev: Well, as it’s the first business forum and, as we call it: trade economic mission to Vietnam. We see a lot of potential for Kazakh businesses in this country since we signed a free trade agreement in 2015. We hope to increase our bilateral trade substantially. We experienced the growth of about 25% last year and our trade turnover amounted over 525 million USD. So, the growth is supposed to grow even faster. Therefore, we organized this visit. There are 14 Kazakh companies here right now which are engaged into production of agricultural goods, IT and machinery building, food, and beverages. So, we see that two countries have a lot of potential to offer to each other and prepare about 70 different goods worth about 500 million USD to export to Vietnam. We hope to increase and double our trade within several years.
Bao Tram: What do you bring to this forum?
Kairat Torebaev: Normally we bring different companies in the field, for example, one in production of agricultural fertilizers. It's organic and we experience a huge growth in production of rice in Kazakhstan, using those fertilizers, biologically produced. And therefore, we wanted to share this experience here in Vietnam since we experienced very good, very good cooperation in Central Asian countries. This is one company. The second company is Parqour. It's an IT company which deals with parking of cars. It's automatic use artificial intelligence to process bills and open up the gate and closing the gate. So, it's totally automatic. It uses only a very small amount of equipment. You just put camera and a motor, that's all. So, the other one is production of alcohol. Well, we are very well known for very good quality of wheat. And two companies from Kazakhstan producing very good liquor and vodka and other products which we are planning to offer to Vietnamese market.
Bao Tram: Despite the impacts of the pandemic, bilateral trade in the first half of last year rose 57% to 303 million USD. What did Kazakhstan do to maintain ties with Vietnam?
Kairat Torebaev: Well, pandemic was a kind of stress for every country in the world. We experienced a very difficult situation since Kazakhstan is a landlocked country. The only country which is between Kazakhstan and Vietnam is China. So, we have direct railroad connection and direct flights. Our goal was to move people to each other. Therefore, we provided these direct flights for Vietjet. They're flying four times a week and we see a lot of businesses coming to Kazakhstan and to Vietnam. It was one of the measures. The second measure was to discuss all the transit issues with Chinese authorities, and they helped us to move goods through their railway system.
Bao Tram: With such support from the government, what are the potential cooperation areas between the two countries?
Kairat Torebaev: We see a lot of potential for industry because we see here in Vietnam boom of industrialization and the same happening in Kazakhstan. First one is machinery building, the second one electronics. Vietnam is a well-known leader in the world for production of electronics and we have a lot of demand in Kazakhstan for production of electronics. Therefore, we can complement each other. The third one is light industry, of course, yeah, Vietnam is a champion in production of fabrics, clothes, materials and in Kazakhstan we grow a lot of cotton and the cotton has to be processed and wheat. Therefore, we see another potential here. And the 4th one apparently is a food industry. We see that we can produce and sell each other. For example, rice products from here and wheat products from Kazakhstan.
Bao Tram: You said earlier that there is already a direct air route. That’s a big plus for the two business communities. Can you tell us more about it?
Kairat Torebaev: Yes, I mentioned that we have direct flights. It's unfortunately from Cam Ranh Airport to Almaty city in Astana. But the business center here in Vietnam, we see in HCMC and Hanoi and if we open direct flights with these two cities, it will definitely contribute to our bilateral cooperation. Another issue is visa. It's quite easy to get visa to Vietnam apparently if you file it electronically. If we waive this visa - we will grant visa free regime for both sides - it will definitely contribute more because sometimes it's quite difficult to access a country when you have to pass several countries or several spots to get into the country. And on top of that you have to file a visa, it definitely serves as a stumbling block for the trade.
Bao Tram: The two governments want to raise two-way trade turnover to 1.5 billion USD by 2030. What is the Kazakh government doing to achieve that goal?
Kairat Torebaev: Yes, definitely. Each side supports its exports. For example, in Kazakhstan we have about 20 different measures to support exporters. Therefore, we use all these measures to support our exporters here and the organization of this visit - this trade and economic mission – itself is one of the measures. One more thing I wanted to share is that we are planning to open a joint company, a joint trading company. From our side will be the Kazakh trade, it's national company for promotion of exports and from your side it's in ceramics. Both countries will create this joint venture and this joint venture will have the possibility to increase our trade several folds.
Bao Tram: Thank you, Mr. Kairat Torebaev, Vice Minister of Trade and Integration of the Republic of Kazakhstan, for this interview.
Kairat Torebaev: Thank you very much.