Kazakhstan trade with China
Before making his way to Russia for the Victory Day celebrations, Chinese President Xi Jinping made a one-day stopover in neighboring Kazakhstan. The Central Asian state is of growing diplomatic and strategic importance to China, a fact reflected in Beijingâ€™s attention on the region in recent years.
Kazakhstan is crucial to getting Chinaâ€™s Silk Road Economic Belt off the ground, which is why Xi first announced that initiative during a visit to Astana in September 2013. Since then, Kazakhstan has become a major site of Chinese investment. During Premier Li Keqiangâ€™s visit in December 2014, China and Kazakhstan signed a framework deal that will see the two countries cooperate on infrastructure, energy, and housing deals worth over $14 billion. When Kazakh Prime Minster Karim Masimov visited China in March, the two countries signed more deals worth another $23.6 billion, this time focusing on industrial capacity in the steel, oil refining, hydropower, and automobile sectors.
Despite this, the two countries will have a hard time meeting their goal of increasing their bilateral trade volume to $40 billion this year. Last year, according to statistics from Chinaâ€™s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, China-Kazakhstan bilateral trade was worth only $22.4 billion, which actually represented a 21.5 percent year-on-year drop from the over $28 billion in trade in 2013.
Petroleum is Kazakhstanâ€™s top export, but the country is seeking to improve its industrial capacity in order to wean the economy off reliance on the energy sector. China is interested in helping with this transformation as part of the Silk Road Economic Beltâ€™s development. However, China also seeks increased access to Kazakhstanâ€™s natural resources. An oil pipeline linking Kazakhstan and China provided China with more than 86 million barrels of oil in 2013.