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Remarks by Commerce Secretary Wilbur L. Ross at the Executive Business Development Mission in Astana, Kazakhstan

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It is an honor to be here in Astana to welcome this U.S. business development mission to Kazakhstan. Thank you to our partner, the U.S.-Kazakhstan Business Association, in bringing this delegation to Astana.

Representatives of 16 world-class U.S. companies have come to expand or explore opportunities for new commercial partnerships and business opportunities. The size of the delegation speaks to the potential that our business community sees in Kazakhstan’s growing market. We are delighted to have distinguished guests from the government of Kazakhstan with us today.

This trade mission was organized following the meeting between President Nazarbayev and President Trump in Washington, D.C., last January. Strengthening our commercial ties to promote jobs and growth in both countries was among the topics the two Presidents discussed.

President Trump applauded Kazakhstan’s plans to develop a more diverse and innovative economy. Both leaders expressed their support for legislation in the United States to establish permanent normal trade relations with Kazakhstan. And both committed to further expanding our economic relationship through trade and investment. In fact, during President Nazarbayev’s visit, businesses celebrated trade and investment deals potentially worth an additional $2.1 billion in civil aviation, infrastructure, and agriculture.

More than 150 American companies are currently in Kazakhstan. U.S. business investment here totals more than $26 billion. Our two-way trade is around $1.5 billion. These numbers can grow significantly if the right conditions are put into place.

Kazakhstan is continuing its efforts to make doing business easier. The opening of the Astana International Finance Center is a sign of the nation’s new accessibility to global commerce.

Kazakhstan also has committed to the U.S.-Central Asia Trade and Investment Framework Agreement, which will help create a common system of trade rules for the region. And we expect the U.S.-Kazakhstan Open Skies air transportation agreement to be signed soon. Each of these initiatives testifies to President Nazarbayev's vision for a more diverse and dynamic economy. 

Much of our countries’ economic cooperation so far has been in the oil and gas industries. And we know how important it is for Kazakhstan to be able to maximize the value of its energy resources. Leading-edge American technology and project management can continue to play a role here.

However, we also see opportunities in helping Kazakhstan reach its broad development goals. The companies on this trade mission represent key strategic sectors: energy, infrastructure and agriculture.  Some of them have done business here. Others are new to the market.

We have both large, publicly-traded firms, and small and medium-size companies that are developing tomorrow’s innovative technologies. They bring with them unique expertise, quality goods and services, and an eagerness to explore new opportunities. What they look for in a partnership is transparency, rule of law, and a level playing field.

The success of the companies on this mission will send a strong signal that Kazakhstan welcomes new American firms to the market. We look forward to working together to promote the development of mutually beneficial agreements that will accelerate economic growth and job creation. These will further strengthen the ties between our countries.

Thank you and I wish you all success in your trip so far from home.

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