During discussions the head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs and her hosts expressed their satisfaction that relations between the two countries have been strengthened considerably in recent years. In 2008, bilateral trade exceeded the billion franc mark for the first time.
While Switzerland exported goods to Kazakhstan valued at CHF 180 million, Kazakhstan exported goods to Switzerland totalling CHF 875 million, primarily oil products. If financial flows, which are not reflected in the statistics, were also taken into account, economic activity between the two countries would be considerably greater. If the activities of trading companies in commodities and energy located in Switzerland are included, it amounts to some CHF 11 billion.
Next year Kazakhstan will hold the chairmanship of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), while Switzerland will chair the Council of Europe for six months. The two partners considered the role and future of the two organisations and promised to work together. Federal Councillor Calmy-Rey enquired about the state of progress regarding reforms promised by Kazakhstan when it was granted the chairmanship of the OSCE.
The two partners also discussed their cooperation within the group of vote in the Global Environment Facility (GEF). Consultations were rounded off with a discussion on the political situation in Central Asia and developments in the global economic and financial situation.
Federal Councillor Micheline Calmy-Rey, accompanied by Mr. Aset Ishekev, Kazakhstan’s Minister of Trade and Industry, then attended a round table consisting of representatives from Swiss companies in Kazakhstan and members of the Kazakh business community active in Switzerland.
At the end of the day and in the presence of representatives of the Kazakh government, Mrs. Calmy-Rey inaugurated the new Swiss Embassy in Astana. The representation has been operational since March. Previously Switzerland only maintained a Consulate-General in Almaty, whose services have now been transferred to Astana. This inauguration also marks the strengthening of relations between the two countries.
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