The visit of the Kazakhstan’s President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev in Italy on the 18-19th of January has confirmed the high relevance of the bilateral relations, concretely based on the Strategic Partnership signed by the former Kazakh President Nazarbayev in 2009. Italy and Kazakhstan have expressed their readiness and engagement to further upgrade wider cooperation and political dialogue.
During his visit Tokayev had talks with: Italian Defense Minister Crosetto, President Mattarella and Prime Minister Meloni, signing seven intergovernmental agreements. The Kazakh President emphasized the role of Italy as reliable and long-term partner for Kazakhstan, mainly in the trade and energy sectors. He also stated that Italy and Kazakhstan are committed to increase bilateral trade cooperation, expecting that trade turnover with Italy will increase from the current $14,5 billion to $20 billion in the coming years (ICE, KAZAKHSTAN-ITALY-TRADE TURNOVER-PLANS, January 22, 2024).
Tokayev also attended the Kazakh-Italian roundtable on investments, that represented the apex of this visit: 16 commercial memoranda ($1,5 billion worth) were signed, with a specific focus on green energy and technology investments. As a matter of fact, Kazakh President intends to attract massive foreign investments to achieve the carbon neutrality’s ambitious target by 2060, and Italian companies and firms could provide corresponding know-how and funds.
Since 1991 Eni has been a strategic partner for the development of the oil and gas sector (Karachaganak and Kashagan oil fields). Given the new energy priorities, Eni is working with Kazakhstan to develop an increasing production of renewable energy, through the realization of Badamsha 1 and 2 wind farms in the Aktobe Region, the 50 MW solar power plant in Shaulder, and the project to build a gas processing plant – a 250-megawatt hybrid power station – in the Mangystau Region, for which the national company KazMunayGas and Italian Eni have jointly approved the final investment decision (ICE, KAZAKHSTAN-ENI-COOPERATION, January 19, 2024).
Moreover, an important memorandum of understanding was signed between Samruk Kazyna Sovereign Wealth Fund and Maire Tecnimont, an Italian company with a high expertise in realizing decarbonization and energy transition projects (New Flights, Energy, Agriculture: President Tokayev Meets Top Italian Businesses, The Astana Times, January 19, 2024). Tokayev restated that his country could become a significant supplier of critical minerals and rare hearth materials for Italy and the EU, supporting green transitions (Kazakh-Italian Roundtable Concludes with $1.5 Billion in Signed Deals, The Astana Times, January 22, 2024). This bilateral cooperation should be included as one of the dimensions of the regional approach backed by Italy within the 1+5 format with Central Asian republics.
Finally, Tokayev suggested the involvement of the Italian companies to develop the Trans-Caspian International Transport Route (Middle Corridor), that may progressively be the most promising alternative route to deliver goods from China and Central Asia to the West. However, this route complements the Belt and Road Initiative, and, apparently, the decision of the Italian government to forfeit the MoU with the PRC could reduce business opportunities for the national firms.