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Belarus-Kazakhstan cooperation to open new post-pandemic opportunities

Belarus-Kazakhstan cooperation will open new opportunities in the post-coronavirus period. This opinion was expressed by the head of the BISR department Anton Dudarenok as he spoke today at the round table "Kazakhstan in the modern world. N.A. Nazarbayev leadership factor" held in the House of Friendship.

"Having gained sovereignty decades ago, Belarus and Kazakhstan faced similar challenges in the course of state-building. As states close to each other and having long-standing historical ties, common interests and values, we have been seeking to find answers to the challenges of the time together", Anton Dudarenok said. "We have also in common the responsible political leaders who were able to overcome the challenges of the 1990s and build national models of socio-economic and socio - political development of our states, – the first President of the Republic of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev, and the President of the Republic of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko. The ongoing situation on the world stage is also characterized by challenges that need to be addressed: the coronavirus pandemic, closed borders, trade barriers, the worldwide wave of protests and local armed conflicts".

In the context of growing global tensions, the economies of Belarus and Kazakhstan have experienced a double shock, external and internal, from reduction of supply chains to economic activity slowdown as a result of the pandemic, the BISR representative added. Therefore, we might say that the two states have a substantial interest in seeking new solutions to elaborate new development strategies. "That is were the authorities of Belarus and Kazakhstan are currently focusing their attention. On the eve of the All-Belarusian People's Assembly, the issues of internal socio-economic and socio-political development, Belarus' foreign policy, enhancing the republic's international positions and international image were reflected in discussions on dialogue platforms in all regions of the country, the expert community, among politicians and public figures", Anton Dudarenok said.

"In Kazakhstan, this tendency is also confirmed by specific decisions, which, in particular, were mentioned by President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev in a recent address published under the iconic title "Kazakhstan In A New Reality: Time For Action". The core idea of the address is building a new integrated model of public administration that would allow Kazakhstan to respond more effectively to internal and external challenges. The ideas expressed by the Kazakh president are supported by structural changes, such as strengthening the status of the Supreme Council for Reforms, the re-establishing the Agency for Strategic Planning and Reforms with direct subordination to the President," the BISR representative continued.

In his opinion, Belarus is mush interested in the state program of updating the public consciousness implemented in Kazakhstan, which, along with the constitutional reform and technological modernization of the economy, together constitute the triune task of the "third modernization" of the country.

Noteworthy, too, is the positive practice of implementing constitutional and political reforms in the Republic of Kazakhstan noted by many experts. For example, the Nur Otan party, having introduced into the political system and successfully holding primaries, has secured itself a systematic mechanism for selecting, circulating and rotating its representatives in the Majilis and Maslikhats. More than 10 thousand candidates who participated in the primaries formed a holistic agenda to reveal actual and systemic issues in the regions, offering various solutions", Anton Dudarenok pointed out.

He stressed that in the context of modern challenges, Belarus and Kazakhstan face the need to seek for new growth drivers and elaborate their own development strategies for the future. Our states are also trying to find a response to the modern challenges through economic reforms, for which the necessary prerequisites are available.

Anton Dudarenok recalled that in 2020, despite the general decline in industrial production in EEU countries, Kazakhstan managed to maintain its indicators at the level of 2019. As it was noted at the government meeting led by Prime Minister Askar Mamin, Kazakhstan faster than other EEU states started post-pandemic recovery. In Belarus, the decline was 1.3% following 9 months outcomes. At the same time, with the revival of foreign demand which is projected from the second half of the 2021, the Belarusian economy expects its return to the trajectory of sustainable growth, the BISR representative emphasized.

By his words, this is also promoted by the foreign economic situation. Belarus and Kazakhstan are part of the SCO market with a population of more than 3 billion people. November 2020 unveiled the creation of the world's largest Asia-Pacific Free Trade Zone, which accounts for 30% of the world economy. The Belarus-Kazakhstan cooperation is likely to obtain opportunities to develop cooperation. The promising areas where it is possible to strengthen bilateral cooperation are the transport and logistics sector, agro-industrial complex, food market, pharmaceutical industry, and the manufacture of health products.

The Belarus-Kazakhstan cooperation also comprises other unrealized opportunities for trade in goods and services, interregional cooperation, and advancing the bilateral relations in general. Expert diplomacy can make its contribution as well. In particular, the Belarusian Institute of Strategic Research actively interacts with Kazakh experts even regardless the COVID-19 restrictions, in particular, with the Kazakhstan Institute for Strategic Studies.

"Thus, the only effective response to international instability is joint development", the BISR representative asserted. "Today, our states encounter urgent tasks of building a competitive economy based on human capital, integrating our potentials and strategic programs to counter negative global and regional trends. Undoubtedly, cooperation between our countries will facilitate taking a rightful place in the new post-coronavirus reality, building a diversified and shock-resistant economy. That is why the Kazakh motto "We are together" is relevant both for Belarus and for Belarus-Kazakhstan relations".