Luke Coffey, Director of the Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation, believes Kazakhstan as the regional leader can help the United States play a role in bringing economic and security stability in Afghanistan.
"I'm very excited that your President Nazarbayev came here to Washington to visit Donald Trump within the first year of his presidency. I think this sends a strong message for U.S.-Kazakhstan relations. I think Kazakhstan is the natural partner for the United States in Central Asia. We share so many of the same challenges and we also have so many of the same opportunities. So, I hope that this is a first step in what can be a very enduring relationship between America and Kazakhstan," Coffey told Kazakhstani media in Washington after the historical Nazarbayev-Trump meeting at the White House. The expert emphasized that Kazakhstan and the U.S. have a lot of economic opportunities. "It's my understanding that over 20 agreements were signed totaling over $7 billion in terms of trade agreements. There is an energy sector where Kazakhstan and the U.S. have a strong interest and helping Kazakhstan bring more oil and gas on line to new markets, to help Kazakhstan diversify their markets," Coffey reminded. Director of the Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation noted that Kazakhstan and the U.S. have shared security concerns, especially with the so-called Islamic State, some foreign fighters possibly coming back to Central Asia. In his words, it's important that the U.S. and Kazakhstan cooperate on this matter as well. "In America, we understand that Afghanistan is actually a Central Asian country culturally, historically, geographically and it's closely linked to the economies of the Central Asian republics. So, Kazakhstan as the regional leader can help the United States play a role in bringing economic and security stability in Afghanistan," said Coffey mentioning another area where the two nations can cooperate. He went on to praise Kazakhstan for taking a lot of diplomatic initiatives recently, including the Astana process. Speaking of U.S. policy in Central Asia, the expert pointed out U.S. engagement in the region had some enthusiasm in the early 1990s, but then it started to wane towards the end of that decade. "Then 9/11 happened and all of the sudden American policymakers said we need friends in Central Asian republics to help fight terrorism, to help in Afghanistan. But, when President Obama announced the end of U.S. land combat operations in Afghanistan, our relations with Central Asia also reduced. So other than the C5+1 initiative there wasn't much that came out of the Obama administration. I'm hoping President Trump will be different. This is the new opportunity for the U.S. to be a bigger actor in the region. But also to show countries like Kazakhstan that we don't want the transactional relationship based of one issue, we want a long-term and enduring relationship between our countries. So, I'm optimistic that this will happen," Coffey said in conclusion.
The US - Kazakhstan Business Roundtable took place in Washington
During the visit of President Nursultan Nazarbayev to Washington, numerous commercial contracts and documents were concluded, including new agreements between The Boeing Company, GE Transportation, GE Digital, Chevron, Air Astana, KazTemirZholy, SCAT Airlines, and the Samruk-Kazyna National Wealth Fund for the purchase of U.S. products and services valued at over $2.5 billion, the US Department of State said.
During their visit, the two leaders celebrated two separate deals between Boeing and Kazakh airlines totaling over $1.3 billion, sustaining an estimated 7,100 direct and indirect U.S. jobs. Specifically, SCAT Airlines ordered six Boeing 737 MAX 8 airplanes. With the first aircraft scheduled for delivery in March 2018, these will be the first 737 MAXs owned and operated in Kazakhstan and Central Asia, bolstering SCAT’s regional and international network. Additionally, Air Astana, the national flag carrier of Kazakhstan, affirmed its commitment, under the terms of an existing contract, to purchase three 787 Dreamliners, which are scheduled for delivery in 2021.
General Electric and Kazakhstan Temir Zholy (KTZ) concluded two new strategic initiatives valued at over $900 million, which will sustain or create over 3,500 U.S. jobs. GE Transportation will design and manufacture up to 300 shunter locomotives for KTZ, with delivery beginning in 2019. GE Transportation also signed an 18-year service agreement to maintain and support 175 current KTZ GE Evo locomotives beginning in 2018. The deal will include an expansion of the main KTZ rail facility in Astana.
Pfizer signed a memorandum of understanding with Kazakhstan to explore a localization project for the secondary packaging of a high-technology medical product. If concluded, the project could include measures to improve the cold chain system for the transportation and storage of medicines in Kazakhstan.
World media monitoring