ASTANA – Russian President Vladimir Putin is set to visit neighboring Kazakhstan on Tuesday to meet with counterpart Nursultan Nazarbayev and oversee the signing of dozens of economic cooperation agreements worth $25 billion, officials in the Central Asian nation have confirmed.
The Russian leader’s visit is to center on bilateral cooperation as well as efforts to strengthen economic integration within the Eurasian Economic Union, or EEU, which includes Armenia, Belarus and Kyrgyzstan.
The two Presidents are to participate in the Kazakh-Russian business forum at the Palace of Independence with the heads of Kazakh and Russian companies included on Forbes “Global-2000” list.
The Kazakh political scientist and head of the Foundation “World of Eurasia,” Eduard Poletayev, told EFE that the theme of the forum -the development of the transport and logistics potential of the Eurasian space- was first suggested by Nazarbayev, who has led the resources-rich nation since the country’s independence from the former Soviet Union in 1991.
“Most likely, the sides will discuss the major international megaproject ‘Western Europe-Western China’ as the question of completion of construction of the highway remains relevant,” Poletayev said.
China completed in 2011 its stretch of 3,425 kilometers (2,128 miles) and Kazakhstan is set to finish its tract of 2,787 km (1,731 miles) by the end of the year.
Russia, however, will be unable to complete construction of its section of 2,233 km (1,387 miles), known as “Meridian” until 2020 “because of the long bureaucratic process,” Poletayev said.
After completion of the megaproject, goods shipped through this new route from China to Western Europe will arrive in about 10 days and transportation costs will be less expensive than by sea, which currently takes up to 80 days, Poletayev said.
“The development of transport and logistics potential in the integration agenda in 2016 is a priority. It is about the synchronization of Eurasian Economic Union projects and the economic belt New Silk Road,” he said.
The forum participants are to sign more than 30 bilateral agreements worth $25 billion for projects in priority sectors, such as the food and chemical industries, metallurgy, innovation, engineering, pharmaceutics and the manufacturing of building materials, Kazakh officials said.