Whereas the financial trade of essential uncooked supplies between the EU and Kazakhstan is mutually helpful, each actors agreed on the necessity to transcend this relationship with the intention to strengthen it sooner or later.
As a part of the EU Uncooked Supplies Week, a high-profile panel of EU and Kazakh consultants gathered at a Euractiv convention to debate the function of commerce and the provision of essential uncooked supplies between the EU and Kazakhstan.
Over the previous twenty years, the European Union and Kazakhstan have developed a deepening relationship on essential uncooked supplies (CRMs), pushed by a rising mutual recognition of their widespread pursuits.
These minerals are important for producing varied merchandise, reminiscent of electronics and renewable power applied sciences. They’re thought-about essential on account of their financial significance, excessive provide chain dangers and potential impression on strategic industries, making Kazakhstan a key provider for the EU’s inexperienced and digital transitions.
In keeping with MEP and former Polish International Minister Włodimierz Cimoszewicz, Kazakhstan, as a serious producer and much more so sooner or later, is essential for the EU to implement its main initiatives such because the New Inexperienced Deal as a provider of essential supplies.
” Implementing this challenge along with Kazakhstan as a provider of some important supplies could be our joint contribution to the combat towards local weather change,” he mentioned.
A view shared by Kanat Sharlapayev, Kazakhstan’s Minister of Trade, who identified that of the 34 essential supplies listed by the EU, 18 are already produced in Kazakhstan.
” We have already got current tackle environmental points quickly cooperation tackle environmental points quickly with many European firms when it comes to provide. “Sharlapayev mentioned, including that he foresees a rise within the provide of supplies that his nation already produces, reminiscent of niobium, titanium, beryllium, rhenium and osmium.
Hydrogen and nuclear partnerships
The panellists recalled that signing the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Strategic Partnerships on Sustainable Uncooked Supplies, Batteries and Renewable Hydrogen Worth Chains in 2022 has additional strengthened their cooperation within the power area between Kazakhstan and the EU.
“Kazakhstan, due to its dimension and geographical range, has entry to lots of very high-quality wind and lots of high-quality solar,” Sharlapayev mentioned, including that there are areas in Kazakhstan which have 12 months of sunshine a yr, which is one method to produce the inexperienced hydrogen that the EU so desperately wants to satisfy its local weather targets.
The identical goes for uranium, as Kazakhstan is an undisputed chief in uranium mining, accounting for 42% of world manufacturing, with the Kazatomprom Nationwide Atomic Firm accounting for 22%, state fund Samruk Kazyna reported on 29 August.
This makes Kazatomprom the world’s largest uranium producer, with its subsidiaries, associates and joint ventures growing 26 deposits, grouped into 14 uranium mining firms, and attracting growing consideration from some EU international locations, notably France, whose president visited Astana in early November.
“We now have to hyperlink it one way or the other one way or the other what’s occurred in Africa, in Niger, and the necessity to discover options to the Nigerian uranium “, mentioned Dumitru Fornea from the European Financial and Social Committee (EESC).
EU technical help and improvement
The panellists additionally harassed that the connection between the EU and Kazakhstan is, at its core, a mutual one, as elevated cooperation has seen the EU present technical help and assist for sustainable CRM mining practices, positioning the EU and Kazakhstan as key gamers within the international CRM business.
“Kazakhstan has the sources, however it wants the applied sciences to develop its processing and extraction business regionally,” reminded Axel Goethals, CEO of the European Institute for Asian Research, including that the European Union doesn’t have many international mining firms.
He added that Europe has attention-grabbing technological analysis on thorium-based nuclear power, which might add worth to the cooperation between Kazakhstan and the European Union.
“Kazakhstan might be a pioneer on this area,” Goedhals mentioned, stating that the funding prices for thorium reactors are decrease than for uranium reactors. However the valuable mineral can be cleaner, in response to Dr Nygmet Ibadildin, Chair of Worldwide Relations at KIMEP College in Almaty.
“Uranium manufacturing is admittedly widespread in Kazakhstan, however we even have a number of initiatives on thorium,” he mentioned, including, nonetheless, that regardless of some promising geological exploration, the event of thorium power nonetheless wants additional research.
Going past uncooked supplies
Nevertheless, because the dialogue progressed, it turned clear to all concerned that the connection between Kazakhstan and the EU goes far past the mere provide of uncooked supplies.
“No one desires to construct a relationship primarily based solely on uncooked supplies. “EECS’s Fornea mentioned, including that such a relationship would inevitably attain a disaster level and that the uncooked supplies side ought to be only one chapter of the connection.
MEP Cimoszewicz shared the identical views and mentioned that the connection ought to evolve to make Kazakhstan an exporter of reworked merchandise.
“I imagine that we should always speak with Kazakhstan not solely about shopping for uncooked supplies from that nation but in addition about serving to, processing and enabling Kazakhstan to turn into a last producer of many merchandise wanted in fashionable business. “, he mentioned.
He was additional backed by Minister Sharlapayev, who mentioned Kazakhstan might turn into a pacesetter in inexperienced metal manufacturing with the accessible inexperienced energies being developed within the nation.
Moreover, the minister concluded that Kazakhstan can provide European firms an interesting vacation spot for the Kazakhstan market and as a gateway to markets throughout Central Asia.
“I feel it is usually vital for European international locations and firms to have a look at Kazakhstan not solely as a supply but in addition as a vacation spot,” he mentioned, arguing that due to the nation’s geographical location, it’s Central Asian neighbours depend on it for transport to and from the area.
In keeping with Sharlapayev, such a improvement is a win-win scenario, permitting for extra regional financial improvement whereas deepening his nation’s strategic relationship with the European Union.
[Edited by Alice Taylor]
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