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Jordan, Kazakhstan exploring food-security venture

By Hani Hazaimeh - Jordan Times

21 February 2010

AMMAN - Jordan and Kazakhstan are considering a joint venture to produce grain in Kazakh territories to secure the Kingdom's needs at fair prices, according to the top Kazakh diplomat in Amman.

Jordan's Prime Minister Nader Dahabi meeting with Kazakh Prime Minister Karim Masimov, February 2009

The two sides have embarked on intensive meetings following a recent visit by Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev to the Kingdom, Kazakh Ambassador to Jordan Bulat Sarsenbayev told The Jordan Times.

During his visit in November 2009, the Kazakh president held talks with His Majesty King Abdullah and senior officials on means to boost bilateral cooperation in the fields of energy, agriculture, pharmaceuticals and food industries.

In a follow-up visit, a delegation representing the National Food Security Company travelled to Kazakhstan in January and discussed setting up a joint private company tasked with growing various types of grains needed by the local market, Sarsenbayev said.

"The company, which will be operating in Kazakhstan, will benefit from tax incentives, thus lowering the cost for the Jordanian side. Its production will be exported to Jordan at prices 20-25 per cent lower than the current prices," the diplomat said, adding that the venture is expected to generate investments worth over $50 million.

In order for Jordan to benefit from the 2010 agricultural season, the company should be established and operational by March, according to the official.

Under the proposal, the grain would be transported through a joint project establishing a railway linking Kazakhstan, Iran and Turkmenistan, facilitating the movement of cargo from Kazakhstan to an Iranian port on the Caspian Sea.

"This project is expected to conclude in 2010 and a 50,000 tonne capacity grain terminal will be built on site," Sarsenbayev said, noting that the grain would be transported through the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea and to Aqaba via the Suez Canal.

Noting that Kazakhstan is the fifth-largest grain producer in the world, exporting 12 million tonnes last year, he said the Kingdom can become a regional hub for Kazakh exports.

Meanwhile, Sarsenbayev said his country and the Jordan Armed Forces have agreed to carry out joint military exercises and organise training for Kazakh troops on peacekeeping missions.

Moreover, the envoy said his government has extended an invitation to King Abdullah II Design and Development Bureau Chairman Moayad Samman to visit Kazakhstan and explore the opportunity of establishing a joint company to modernise the Kazakh army.

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