The Australian Ambassador in Moscow is accredited to Kazakhstan, and makes regular visits. Australia and Kazakhstan have an active bilateral relationship, based on common interests in international multilateral institutions, increasing trade and investment ties, and people-to-people links built by the growing number of Australians and Kazakhs travelling each way, for work, study and holidays.
A number of high-level visits have taken place between Australia and Kazakhstan. Former Foreign Minister, Kevin Rudd, visited Astana in December 2010 to attend the OSCE Summit held whilst Kazakhstan was Chair of the organisation. He returned in June 2011 for the OIC Foreign Minister’s meeting in Astana. Australia sent a parliamentary delegation to Kazakhstan in April 2012. Senior Officials Talks were also held in Canberra in 2015. Then Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer, the Hon Steven Ciobo MP, visited Astana to attend the 47th Asian Development Bank Annual meeting in May 2014.
Kazakhstan’s then Prime Minister, Sergey Tereshchenko, visited Australia in 1993; then Governor General of Australia, Bill Hayden, visited Kazakhstan in 1994; and President Nazarbayev visited Australia in 1996. Zhanar Aitzhanova, then Vice-Minister of Industry and Trade, led a trade and agriculture delegation to Australia in 2008. Ms Aitzhanova is now Minister for Economic Integration.
Kazakhstan is Australia’s leading trading partner in Central Asia, however, the level of trade between Australia and Kazakhstan remains modest. Two-way merchandise trade in 2014 was worth A$22million. Australia’s exports to Kazakhstan, worth A$19million, consisted principally of manufactured goods. Imports from Kazakhstan, worth A$2.3 million, consisted mostly of pig iron. Some trade is handled through intermediate markets such as Russia, China and the Netherlands.
Foreign direct investment in Kazakhstan exceeded US$129billion in 2014. Attracting further investment is integral to Kazakhstan’s plans to diversify the economy and to develop industrial clusters to promote synergies in sectors of comparative advantage. Australian investment in Kazakhstan totalled A$106 million in 2014. Several Australian companies are active in Kazakhstan, including Worley Parsons, Iluka Resources, Orica, Ausenco, Jupiter Energy, Gloria Jean’s Coffees, Rio Tinto and the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation (SMEC).