Interview with H.E. Ambassador of Kazakhstan to Malaysia Bolat Imanbayev

Q: What is the basis of current relationship between Malaysia and Kazakhstan?

Since the establishing the diplomatic relations with Malaysia in 1992 our bilateral cooperation has developed steadily. For the period of 28 years we have created a constructive dialogue based on mutual trust and benefit. Nowadays, Malaysia is one of the most important political and economic partners of Kazakhstan in the South East Asia.

 The necessary mechanisms such as Political consultations, Intergovernmental Joint Trade and Economic Committee, Business Council were created aimed to develop the bilateral relation in all dimensions according to the agreements reached between our countries. In 2019 Parliamentary Friendship Group “Malaysia – Kazakhstan” was created at the House of Representatives of the Parliament of Malaysia.

We regularly conduct political contacts, including on the highest level. Due to the multi-ethnic and multi-religious nature of our two nations, their important locations on international crossroads, as well as our relatively high tempos of economic development, Nur-Sultan and Kuala Lumpur find themselves in similar situations in many ways.

On multilateral format both sides are actively supporting each other in implementation of the foreign policy’s initiatives. We successfully cooperate within forums as the UN, OIC, ASEM and many others. Cooperation in the framework of the Islamic Organization for Food Security (IOFS) and Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA) seems very perspective. Kazakhstan is also interested in cooperation with Malaysia within the framework of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Regional Forum (ARF).

Intensive trade-economic cooperation is another vital component of our bilateral collaboration. Malaysia is among the leading trade partners of Kazakhstan in this region. As for today, Malaysian companies and investors in cooperation with Kazakhstan partners have implemented projects in the field of oil and gas, engineering and construction, agriculture, green technologies, and many others for the total amount of over 1 billion US dollars. Our bilateral trade is increasing continuously every year – in 2019 the total amount of trade turnover increased for 25% compared to 2018.

Q: What is the role of H.E. Nursultan Nazarbayev in supporting and developing the relations between Malaysia and Kazakhstan?

The fundamental basis of the development of warm, friendly and mutually beneficial collaboration is the result of the agreements reached following the meetings and negotiations of the First President of Kazakhstan with the leaders of Malaysia.

The beginning of the deepening trade and economic relations was laid in 1996, during the first official visit of H.E. N. Nazarbayev to Malaysia. Following the meetings on the highest level, the “Trade Agreement” was signed, which became the cornerstone of establishing Joint Trade and Economic Committee (JTEC) and Kazakhstan-Malaysian Business Council (KMBC).

In 2014 the historical decision of our states’ leaders to develop the bilateral cooperation on a level of “comprehensive partnership” was reached. This format takes collaboration between Nur-Sultan and Kuala Lumpur to a new level and creates the ways for broadening it in various fields of bilateral and multilateral cooperation.

In general, it should be noted that since the establishment of such political dialogue, we enjoy the similarity of positions on many actual issues of the international agenda and we don’t have any disputed issues in bilateral cooperation.These aspects create a favorable climate for the further effective development of Kazakhstan-Malaysian relations.

Q: What is the current situation in cooperation between Malaysia and Kazakhstan in the fields you mentioned?

Kazakhstan and Malaysia have achieved mutually beneficial cooperation in many sectors, such as Islamic banking, Halal industry, oil and gas, infrastructure, green technology, and others. Malaysian companies and investors have many projects in Kazakhstan. Let me briefly inform about only few of the latest activities in business and investment fields.

In June 2019, Kazakhstan and Malaysia launched the Kazakhstan-Malaysia Business Council in Kuala Lumpur. The main activity of the Council is to do research on developing the business and economic ties between the two countries and offer opportunities of investing for businessmen from both sides.

In November 2019, the Embassy of Kazakhstan in Malaysia together with the Malaysian SME International Trade Association (SMITA) organized a visit for private companies from Malaysia to Kazakhstan. The business partnership and this collaboration led to B2B meetings and negotiations with signed MOUs, along with adopting joint road map between Kazakhstan and Malaysia for the further expansion of trade, economy, and investment cooperation.

Together with MATRADE and Kazakhstan’s national agency on attracting investment and investors support – KAZAKH INVEST, our Embassy organized the Business Forum in December of last year, where detailed information on Kazakhstan’s Government incentives program for foreign investors was presented to more than 120 Malaysian companies.

Q: What is the collaboration and partnership with Malaysia in other areas?

Kazakhstan and Malaysia share dynamic collaboration and partnership in different sectors including tourism and culture, and many more. In the last couple of years, we had many mutual projects, and I would like to mention some of them.

In July 2019, we held meetings between the Islamic Organization for Food Security (IOFS) and the Malaysian Ministry of Primary Industries, along with others. These meetings were to present to Malaysia the initiative of the First President of the Republic of Kazakhstan H.E. Nursultan Nazarbayev on establishment of the IOFS, which enables Islamic countries to conduct coordinated actions for providing required emergency and humanitarian assistance in order to mobilize and manage financial and agricultural resources to enhance food security. In current situation this initiative has proven to be timely and bears special importance for future collaboration for the benefit of member states of the IOFS and within the framework of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.

In terms of tourism, since October 2009, Kazakhstan’s national carrier “Air Astana” operates scheduled flights on the route Almaty – Kuala Lumpur – Almaty which positively affected the development of tourism between countries. For example, almost 15,000 tourists from Kazakhstan visited Malaysia in 2019 and about 10,000 tourists from Malaysia visited Kazakhstan during the same period. This is a fruitful effect from the implementation of our First President’s project on establishing Kazakhstan’s national carrier “Air Astana” and developing major international routes for better attraction of tourism and business to Kazakhstan, and in this case to Malaysia as well.

We also had many other events in terms of culture. For example, last year in cooperation with Malaysian Ministry of Tourism and Art we held for the first time in South East Asia a special exhibition of the “Golden Man” at Kuala Lumpur National Museum. For one month we have showed the rich historical and cultural heritage of our country and exhibited 346 items from the National Museum of Kazakhstan. The exhibition attracted the interest of more than 21,000 people, who visited the event.

Q: On July 6th of this year Kazakhstan is celebrating the 22nd Anniversary of the Day of the Capital – Nur-Sultan, the city built and developed by the initiative and hard work of H.E. Nursultan Nazarbayev. What makes the First President of Kazakhstan different and special for Kazakhstan?

Nursultan Nazarbayev was elected as the President of Kazakhstan at the first nation-wide elections on December 1, 1991. At the dawn of independence, people entrusted him to determine the way of development of a sovereign Kazakhstan. He 5 received the country after the collapse of the USSR, during the times of uncertainty and crisis. Time has proved the correctness of this fateful choice.

In the domestic policy he made a significant contribution. The content and essence of his activities to create the foundations of sovereignty, building of an effective economy, creation of a harmonious society and identification of priorities for the country’s development is a ground for recognizing the First President of Kazakhstan as the Founding Father of our modern statehood and true Leader of the Nation.

In terms of foreign policy, due to the efforts of the First President, the international authority of Kazakhstan also strengthened. Kazakhstan was the first among the Central Asian countries to be elected as a non-permanent member on the United Nations Security Council for the years 2017-2018. The Presidency of Kazakhstan in the UN Security Council in 2018 is another historic achievement for our country.

Therefore, in the recent years, Kazakhstan has consistently intensified its mediation activities. Kazakhstan has made a significant contribution to the comprehensive settlement of the Iranian nuclear issue by hosting in Almaty highlevel negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 group. In its latest peacemaking endeavor, Kazakhstan is contributing to the settlement of the Syrian civil war. Due to our neutrality and experience in mediating global conflicts, Nur-Sultan was chosen as a suitable location to host the Syrian talks.

First President’s decision to move the capital of Kazakhstan to the geographical center of the country gave an immediate boost and enormous positive effect to the economy of the whole country. Nowadays, Nur-Sultan is the symbol of Kazakhstan and the flagship of its development. Steady economic growth makes the city a model of modern urbanization, architecture solutions, as well as attractive destination for business and tourism.

The capital is greatly contributing to the promotion of inter-religious and international dialogue through the platform of the Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions. In the framework of Astana Economic Forum, Eurasian Media Forum and Astana Club, international experts annually discuss the most important issues and challenges of the global agenda.

During summer 2017 Kazakhstan was the first among the CIS countries to host world «EXPO-2017» exhibition in Nur-Sultan. 115 states, including Malaysia, and 20 international organizations participated in this world fair.

I would like to mention that within the framework of participation at Expo2017, Malaysia was represented by more than 110 companies. Malaysia Pavilion was also one of the most popular and was reportedly one of the top ten expositions in terms of visitations. In total, Malaysian pavilion received 682,591 visitors throughout the EXPO. I would like to emphasize that Malaysian participation at 6 EXPO 2017 was highly successful. Your National Pavilion was awarded for Best Interpretation of Theme by US-based Exhibitor Magazine. On top of that, Malaysian Exposition won the Marketing Excellence Award 2017 Gold Award for Government Sector Marketing for brand campaign.

In 2018 Astana International Financial Center (AIFC) was launched in our capital by the decree of the First President of Kazakhstan which main goal is to establish new financial center, aimed to turn Nur-Sultan into a regional financial hub by creating favorable and attractive environment for business development. Today AIFC is a unique center which brings together the best practices and opportunities offered by similar financial institutions around the globe – from New York and London to Dubai, Hong Kong, and Singapore.

All these successes and achievements are direct merits of our First President – The Leader of the Nation H.E. Nursultan Nazarbayev’s hard work and efforts. Along with him, the country withstood many hardships and have become modern, developed, and prosperous state, attractive for investment, business and tourism, with significant accomplishments and dynamic growth in many areas aimed at creating better future for the nation.