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    India, Kazakhstan Mull Starting Work on Eastern Extension of INSTC

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    India and Kazakhstan aim to take their bilateral trade to USD 5 billion from the current USD 1 billion. During the bilateral Investment Forum held in Delhi from 12 to 14 November, the two sides discussed the potential of the Kazakhstan-Turkmenistan-Iran-India multi-modal connectivity corridor which can be further linked to Russia.

    NEW DELHI (Sputnik), Santosh Koshy Joy — Indo-Kazakh cooperation is heading to a new high. From military and technical cooperation to information technology, from financial technology to oil and gas, the two countries are aiming it big with an ambitious plan for multi-modal connectivity. 

    Experts suggest that the scope of India and Kazakhstan having a long-lasting symbiotic relationship is immense as both countries have only to gain out of this interaction.

    The plans of Central Asia's biggest and resource-rich country Kazakhstan opening up corridors of connectivity via land and sea to expand business with India was revealed in a recent high-level business forum in Delhi.

    India, a close partner and a growing economy for Kazakhstan, already has a substantial presence in the central Asian economy, with Tengri Bank based in Kazakhstan's largest metropolis Almaty, has opened more than 80 accounts of Indian companies during the last two years. India's Punjab National Bank holds 49% share in Tengri Bank. Moreover, Kazakhstan is also an important supplier of uranium to India. 

    "Kazakhstan and India have a lot to achieve mutually. India has a credible partner for energy supplies and for Kazakhstan, India is one of the largest market and world's third largest economy for all practical reasons. With its growing proximity and trade with India, the central Asian country is pursuing a multi-vector diplomacy and it is making sure that it does become a political theatre to any of the economic giants," Ashok Sajjanhar, former ambassador of India to Kazakhstan, told Sputnik.

    READ MORE: Possible Trade Agreement Between the EEU and ASEAN

    Now India and Kazakhstan have cleared the eastern extension of the North-South Transport Corridor. This was long pending and would be a breakthrough for the transport of non-expensive goods. Although goods like that of pharma products are already being moved through the air, the land and sea route will extend the exchange and trade in other products, according to the former diplomat.

    The two countries recently organized two meets in Delhi to discuss starting work on the proposed a Kazakhstan-Turkmenistan-Iran-India connectivity route, which they aim to establish as the eastern route of the North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) which could be further linked to the eastern part of Russia, a source privy to the meeting said.

    Deliberations were held on linking Gujarat's Mundra Port with Bandar Abbas and connect it to Iran-Turkmenistan-Kazakhstan railway network and onwards to Eastern Russia. The idea is to not only access markets of this landlocked region, but also create a corridor to import natural resources from the region, the source told Sputnik.

    The proposed eastern sector of the "North-South" corridor has immense potential and the Indian business community must get familiarised with it, regional experts told Sputnik during the meet.

    An agreement on transport and forwarding services by rail between JSC "Kazakhstan Temir Zholy Express" and Indian logistics company Tuberose Logistics was signed during the meeting.

    The document provides for concrete steps to develop cooperation. The parties also agreed to implement a pilot supply of goods on the Kazakhstan-Turkmenistan-Iran-India route by the beginning of next year.

    READ MORE: Pakistan Considering Joining North-South Transport Corridor Project — Ambassador

    According to observers, the wide use of this connectivity route will significantly reduce the time of cargo delivery and, accordingly, increase the trade turnover between the two countries by two or three times.

    The Kazakhstan delegation was headed by the chairman of the board of JSC Kazakh Invest, Saparbek Tuyakbayev. The delegation also included the heads of more than 10 leading companies from Kazakhstan.

    Saparbek Tuyakbayev gave an overview of the investment climate in Kazakhstan for Indian investors. Indian businessmen are interested in agriculture, mining, engineering, telecommunications, health, etc. Indian infra major GMR may represent India in the modernization of airports in Kazakhstan, according to sources.

    Indo-Kazakh bilateral relation was raised to the strategic level in 2009 during the visit of President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev to India. The Kazakh president is expected to visit India again in early 2019.

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    transport corridor, bilateral cooperation, connectivity, energy cooperation, India, Kazakhstan
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