ASTANA: Kazakhstan has agreed to give opportunities to Malaysian companies to explore various fields in the Central Asian country, including mining and renewable energy.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said Kazakhstan also wants to strengthen cooperation, including knowledge sharing because Malaysia has expertise and skills in chip manufacturing.

“Kazakhstan is an important country in Central Asia because of its economic strength, and it also wants to continue improving relations with Malaysia. They had given us a special opportunity and incentive because of the bilateral and diplomatic relations between the two countries that started in 1992, but it was not increased,“ he said at a press conference at the end of a two-day official visit to Kazakhstan today.

Anwar, who is also the finance minister, said the agreement was made during his meeting with the President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev at the Presidential Palace (Ak Orda) here yesterday which was followed by a bilateral meeting of their respective delegations.

Also in the Prime Minister’s delegation are Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan, Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz, Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing, and Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Religious Affairs ) Datuk Dr Mohd Na’im Mokhtar, as well as senior officials of various ministries and agencies.

In addition, the Prime Minister said both countries also want to facilitate the trade and investment process to attract investors and the business community to explore new cooperation opportunities. “We also want to strengthen cooperation in sectors of interest such as halal, Islamic banking and agriculture,“ he added.

Regarding the Kazakhstan-Malaysia Roundtable Investment Meeting today, the Prime Minister said four memorandums of understanding (MoU) were signed at the session which is expected to generate exports of RM1.6 billion (US$350 million).

The MOUs signed today were between the Institute for Strategic and International Studies (ISIS) and the Kazakhstan Institute for Strategic Studies (KazISS) and the National Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia (NCCIM) and the National Chamber of Commerce of Kazakhstan (Atameken). Also signing an MOU were Hyrax Oil Sdn Bhd and the Alegeum Electric Company Group and between Berkat OSH Services Sdn Bhd and APEC Training Center LLP.

Kazakhstan, the ninth largest country in the world, has a population of about 20 million people and more than 70 per cent of them are Muslim.

The country is bordered by Russia to the north, the Caspian Sea to the southwest; Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and the Kyrgyz Republic to the south, and China to the east. Its main export is oil, followed by natural gas and other commodities. It is also a major wheat producer.