Kazakhstan can become South Africa's stable partner - Ambassador Shirish Soni
Receiving credentials from Ambassador of the Republic of South Africa in April 2012 Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbayev said that South Africa is Kazakhstan's prospective partner on the African continent. The President stressed that all necessary conditions were created in order to expand cooperation with this country.
In an interview with Kazinform, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of South Africa Shirish Soni told in what areas Kazakhstan and South Africa can develop cooperation.
- Mr. Ambassador, this year marks 20 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations between Kazakhstan and the Republic of South Africa. How do you assess the achieved level of cooperation between our countries?
- The Government of Kazakhstan and the Government of South Africa carry out regular and consistent work to develop our relations. Our countries are young. Kazakhstan has celebrated its 20th anniversary of Independence, and we will celebrate our 18th anniversary this year. Of course, our countries would need some time to raise their cooperation at a certain level. Therefore, our country opened its diplomatic mission in Kazakhstan, and Kazakhstan is committed to open its representation office in South Africa. This launch is very important for the development of relations between the two countries. We have already held the second session of political consultations between the governments of both countries. Our Deputy Minister Mr. Ebrahim Ebrahim is the senior and well-respected diplomat both in our countries and globally. Currently, a visit of the Kazakhstan President to South Africa is on the process and we hope that this visit will raise our relation to a higher level. On political terms, there are a lot of areas where South Africa and Kazakhstan could develop cooperation both bilateral and multilateral. We work on this through our concerned ministries, and both governments launched the work on further development of cooperation, and the cooperation will grow from year to year.
- What do you think, in what areas and directions could economic cooperation between Kazakhstan and South Africa be strengthened?
- Our strategic aims are to increase trade and mutual investment and boost tourism. But of course, we should be very careful while we do planning. One of our challenges is the distance between our countries, so we have to address how we manage and address the challenge of logistics. . I hope that the issue will not be very complicated to be addressed since both countries have a lot of experiences and one gate ways into their regions.
With regard to tourism, there are good prospects - Kazakhstan people will really enjoy visiting South Africa, and our people will really enjoy visiting Kazakhstan. Both countries can offer a lot of variety of products for tourism, and our countries have unique nature and the desire to develop tourism.
We have invited the interested agencies to visit INDABA which was held in South Africa from 12 to 15 May 2012. The tourism exhibition will give an opportunity for networking among travel agencies of Kazakhstan and South Africa. This exhibition is the largest exhibition on the African continent, and it has won worldwide recognition. We are constantly trying to expand it, and make it more representative. Durban, as a city, is one of the most beautiful cities and very attractive for tourists.
There is also one area where our countries could develop mutually beneficial cooperation, which is management of mineral resources. Both Kazakhstan and South are very rich in reserves of minerals. We also would be able to cooperate in new industrial technologies.
- Do businessmen of your country have any projects which they would offer to Kazakhstan? Do South African companies have intention to participate in projects implemented within the State Programme for the Forced Industrial and Innovative Development of Kazakhstan?
- Our embassy tries to raise interest of our business persons working in various spheres and realization of their projects in Kazakhstan. My main focus, as the Head of the Diplomatic Mission of South Africa in Astana, is to create conditions for presentation of our projects in Kazakhstan.
Of course, we intend to participate in large industrial projects which are realized within the Kazakhstan Industrial and Innovative Programme. After my visit to the East Kazakhstan Region and after I learned the auto factory, we saw a potential to build auto spares plants. Currently, Kazakhstan is only assembling motorcars. In South Africa we work with the same leading auto companies like Kazakhstan and but we introduce auto parts as well.
Another possible area of cooperation is the creation of enterprises for production of cosmetics in Kazakhstan. Because it would be cheaper to produce in Kazakhstan rather than in South Africa and rather than spending a lot of money for transportation. The same we can say about Kazakhstani companies which produce steel and pipes and other materials. It would be more profitable to produce them in South Africa rather than deliver from Kazakhstan.
In general, our Embassy in conjunction with representatives of business circles and state agencies of South Africa and Kazakhstan are constantly learning potential for mutually beneficial cooperation by implementing joint projects.
- Does the creation of the Customs Union of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia boost trade and economic relations of our countries?
- Kazakhstan, as a member of the Customs Union, may offer an access to a greater market, i.e. it may serve as a gateway to the markets. Kazakhstan recently reached the top 50 countries, according to the World Bank's studies in ease of doing business. The government of your country works on improvement of business climate and our entrepreneurs know about it.
I would also like to highlight that South Africa would also provide a gateway to its regional market of the Southern Africa and the African market in general. Kazakhstan in our region would be a very stable partner since South Africa also creates a good business environment. In this our countries are like twins and I am sure that we will achieve success if we work hard in the sphere of trade, investment and tourism.
- Thank you for the interview.