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Kazakhstan, China Sign Deals Worth $14 Billion

The Kazakh and Chinese prime ministers met in the Kazakh capital Astana on December 14 as new deals worth some $14 billion were signed.

Kazakh Prime Minister Karim Masimov and his Chinese counterpart Li Keqiang presided over the signing of some 30 agreements.

The most notable was a deal for China to invest $3.8 billion in the development of potash production in Kazakhstan's western Aktobinsk and West Kazakhstan provinces.

Other deals were for joint development of electrical power facilities -- including thermal plants and renewable technology -- to enable Kazakhstan to export electricity to China and an agreement for the formation of a joint venture for the production of nuclear fuel and the development of uranium mines.

Kazakhstan is the world's leading producer of uranium and is exporting uranium to China as part of previous deals.

China has 22 nuclear reactors in operation and 26 more under construction.

Cooperation agreements were also signed between the two national railway companies and between state energy companies KazMunaiGaz and China National Petroleum Corp.

Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev also met with Li, praising cooperation with China and noting, "Today, a significant amount of Kazakh oil is being produced with the participation of Chinese companies."

Li said ahead of his visit to Kazakhstan, "Sino-Kazakh cooperation is developing rapidly. The volume of trade between the two countries is increasing annually by 20 percent."

Eurasian Economic Union

Masimov and Nazarbaev's meetings with Li come after the Kazakh prime minister met in Almaty on December 13 with Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev, during which the two discussed the impending inauguration of the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) and the affect reduced oil prices have on the countries' economies.

Medvedev noted the importance of oil since both countries are large exporters and "events are taking place on the oil market, which definitely affects the economic situation."

Masimov recalled that his country is bidding to hold the Winter Olympic Games and said advice from Russia, where the last Winter Games were held earlier this year, would be very useful for Kazakhstan.

Medvedev met with President Nazarbaev on December 14 to discuss the EEU, which officially comes into existence on January 1 and will group Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Russia. Kyrgyzstan is expected to join shortly after.

Nazarbaev expressed confidence trade between the EEU members would expand. The Kazakh president said, in fact, that while trade between the countries had recently decreased in terms of money, it had actually increased in terms of volume.

Medvedev and Li are in Kazakhstan ahead of a meeting of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) members on December 15.

SCO members are China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.

Based on reporting by TASS, Interfax, and Reuters
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