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China, Kazakhstan sign $14b of cooperative deals

Premier Li Keqiang is visiting Kazakhstan, aiming to promote all round and practical cooperation between the two countries. It’s Li’s first official visit to the Central Asian country since he took office. He witnessed the signing of a series of cooperative deals worth about $14 billion.

A welcoming ceremony was held for the Premier by Kazakh Prime Minister Karim Masimov.

Premier Li Keqiang is in Kazakhstan with a full schedule over a two-day visit. His meeting with Masimov on Dec 14 was a regular meeting between the two heads of government.

Li also met Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev.

Closer ties and strengthened cooperation dominated the talks.

China is Kazakhstan’s second largest trade partner and largest export market.

Kazakhstan is China’s number one destination in terms of outbound investment within Central Asia.

Trade volume between the two countries rose to $28.6 billion in 2013. It is projected that the two countries will raise that record to a new high of $40 billion next year.

Reaching that goal would require continued cooperation in the energy sector.

Premier Li said both sides should also explore new growth areas.

He also urged the two sides to promote interconnectivity, push forward cooperation in the areas of logistics, transportation and communication, as well as facilitating trade and personnel exchanges.

Premier Li echoed the Silk Road Economic Belt initiative that President Xi Jinping put forward during his visit to Kazakhstan last September.

Kazakhstan hopes to link its own development plan to the initiative and become a major passage in Central Asia. The two countries have been cooperating within the framework of the belt initiative, as well as within the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

Li is due to attend the 13th prime ministers’ meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

The SCO, founded in 2001, has become an important regional organization in safeguarding security of the Central Asia region and on anti-terrorism cooperation.

It now has six member states — China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, as well as five observers and two dialogue partners.

Kazakhstan is the first leg of Li Keqiang’s seven-day tour that will also take him to Serbia and Thailand.