08ASTANA1808, KAZAKHSTAN – WHEAT EXPORTS AN IMPORTANT ISSUE IN

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08ASTANA1808 2008-09-17 11:37 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Astana

VZCZCXRO4727
RR RUEHBI RUEHCI RUEHLH RUEHPW
DE RUEHTA #1808/01 2611137
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 171137Z SEP 08
FM AMEMBASSY ASTANA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3336
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE 0639
RUCNCLS/SCA COLLECTIVE
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO 0085

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 ASTANA 001808 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/17/2018 
TAGS: PREL EAGR PTER KZ EG
SUBJECT: KAZAKHSTAN - WHEAT EXPORTS AN IMPORTANT ISSUE IN 
RELATIONSHIP WITH EGYPT 
 
Classified By: Pol-Econ Chief Steven Fagin, Reasons 1.4 (b) and (d) 
 
------- 
Summary 
------- 
 
1. (C) According to the Egyptian Embassy, Kazakhstani wheat 
exports to Egypt are an important issue in Kazakhstan-Egypt 
bilateral relations and were a main topic of discussion for 
the August 29 visit to Astana of Egyptian Trade and Industry 
Minister Rachid Mohamed Rachid.  Egypt is interested in 
increasing pharmaceutical exports to Kazakhstan, but faces 
bureaucratic hurdles.  Egypt expects to send Religious 
Endowments (Awqaf) Minister Zakzouk to the October 17 Common 
World Forum ministerial meeting.  The Egyptians are only 
"passively" participating in Nazarbayev's Conference on 
Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA). 
Several hundred Kazakhstanis are studying in Egypt; some have 
been deported back to Kazakhstan for alleged involvement with 
Wahabi groups.  End Summary. 
 
--------------------------------------------- ----- 
Wheat:  A Key Issue in Kazakhstan-Egypt Relations 
--------------------------------------------- ----- 
 
2. (SBU) In a September 8 meeting, Egyptian Embassy Second 
Secretary Mohamed Salah Keshtah discussed with poloffs the 
Kazakhstan-Egypt bilateral relationship, as well as the 
August 29 visit to Astana of Egyptian Trade and Industry 
Minister Rachid Mohamed Rachid.  Egypt-Kazakhstan bilateral 
trade rose significantly in 2008 -- exceeding $233 million 
for the first five months of the year, in comparison with 
trade turnover for all of 2007 of just $76 million.  Keshtah 
explained to poloffs that Egypt's imports of Kazakhstani 
wheat are the most important component of bilateral trade, 
and securing more wheat from Kazakhstan had been a principal 
aim of the visit of Minister Rachid, who had meetings with 
President Nazarbayev, Prime Minister Masimov, and Foreign 
Minister Tazhin. 
 
3. (SBU) During the Rachid visit, Nazarbayev said publicly 
that with the lifting of Kazakhstan's wheat export ban, 
Kazakhstan would  export 1,000,000 tons of wheat to Egypt in 
2008 -- up from 329,000 tons in 2007.  However, according to 
Keshtah, the exact amount for 2008 is still under negotiation 
and will depend on Kazakhstan's overall wheat harvest.  He 
expects that in the end, the actual amount will be between 
500,000 and 700,000 tons, not 1,000,000 tons.  Poloffs asked 
Keshtah about reports that some countries -- for example, 
Saudi Arabia -- are trying to secure arable land for growing 
agricultural products in countries such as Kazakhstan. 
Keshtah admitted that such an arrangement had been discussed 
between Egypt and Kazakhstan, but said that the logistical 
issues proved so overwhelming that no agreement could be 
reached. 
 
--------------------------------------------- ------ 
Registration Process Hampers Pharmaceutical Exports 
--------------------------------------------- ------ 
 
4. (C) Keshtah told poloffs that Egypt is exporting 
approximately $4 million of pharmaceuticals to Kazakhstan 
annually and sees this as a potential growth area, especially 
given that pharmaceutical production costs are much lower in 
Egypt than in Kazakhstan.  However, Kazakhstan's complex 
pharmaceutical registration process is a barrier to 
increasing Egyptian exports.  Egyptian Health and Population 
Minister Hatem Mostafa El-Gabaly may visit Kazakhstan soon to 
discuss, among other things, pharmaceutical trade issues. 
(Note:  El-Gabaly's potential visit is also connected to an 
upcoming conference in Egypt on avian influenza.  Kazakhstan, 
which has a biotechnology center that claims to have 
discovered a vaccination for avian influenza, is expected to 
be an active participant at the conference.  End Note.) 
 
--------------------------------- 
Late Notice on Common World Forum 
--------------------------------- 
 
5. (C) Keshtah noted that Foreign Minister Tazhin has asked 
for high-level Egyptian government representation at the 
October 17 ministerial meeting of the Common World Forum, a 
Nazarbayev initiative aimed at encouraging dialogue between 
the West and the Muslim world.  According to Keshtah, the 
Egyptian plan is to send Religious Endowments (Awqaf) 
Minister Mahmoud Hamdy Zakzouk, as well as a deputy minister 
of culture.  Keshtah voiced frustration that the Egyptian 
Embassy had received very late notice about the August 28-29 
Common World Forum senior officials meeting, which overlapped 
with Rachid's visit.  He said he had not had enough time to 
 
ASTANA 00001808  002 OF 002 
 
 
have Egyptian government legal experts review the proposed 
text for the Common World Forum's final communique (the 
so-called "Astana Declaration.")  Keshtah said Egypt hoped to 
find compromise language, particularly for the two paragraphs 
still in brackets (regarding the Alliance of Civilizations 
and women's rights) about which the United States has 
expressed concerns. 
 
----------------------- 
Concerns Regarding CICA 
------------------------ 
 &#x000
A;6.  (C) Poloffs asked Keshtah about Egypt's role in the 
Conference on Confidence Building Measures and Interaction in 
Asia (CICA), another Nazarbayev initiative, which held a 
ministerial meeting in Almaty on August 25. (Note: Egypt is a 
CICA member state; the United States holds CICA observer 
status.  End Note.) Keshtah said that India is far more 
active in CICA than Egypt, and maintained that the countries 
most active in CICA are each using the forum to pursue their 
own independent objectives.  Several years ago, Egypt raised 
objections regarding some of the issues under consideration 
by CICA, but the Kazakhstanis did not take these concerns 
into account, Keshtah claimed.  As a result, Cairo had 
instructed the Egyptian Embassy in Kazakhstan to attend CICA 
activities, but to "participate passively." 
 
------------------------------- 
Plans for Egyptian Culture Week 
------------------------------- 
 
7.  (SBU) Education and culture are also important issues in 
the Kazakhstan-Egypt bilateral relationship, according to 
Keshtah.  As an example of strong cultural and educational 
ties between the two countries, Keshtah mentioned the 
Egyptian-Kazakh Nour Mubarak University in Almaty, which 
teaches secular subjects and "religion in a moderate way." 
The university is currently in the process of opening a large 
new building.  The Egyptian Embassy, which recently moved to 
Astana from Almaty several months ago, is also planning to 
hold an Egyptian Culture Week.  Activities, including 
Egyptian movie screenings, folk-dance performances and 
exhibits by Egyptian artists, will take place for three days 
each in Astana and Almaty.  President Nazarbayev has great 
respect for Egyptian culture, Keshtah maintained, and had 
once sent his personal airplane to Egypt to fly the head of 
the Al-Azhar foundation to Kazakhstan for a visit.  Keshtar 
also noted that Kazakhstan and Egypt had co-funded activities 
connected to Sultan Baibars.  (Note:  Baibars, a Kipchak Turk 
from the Kazakh steppe, was a Mameluke Sultan of Egypt and 
Syria in the 13th century.  Following Nazarbayev's March 2007 
visit to Egypt, the press reported that Kazakhstan was also 
considering spending one million dollars to help complete the 
restoration of the Sultan Baibars Mosque in Cairo.  End Note.) 
 
---------------------------------------- 
Kazakhstani Students Deported from Egypt 
---------------------------------------- 
 
8.  (C) Keshtah told poloffs that at present, approximately 
400 students from Kazakhstan are studying at Egyptian 
universities on scholarships.  He said that the Egyptian 
government has deported some Kazakhstani students, along with 
students from other Central Asian universities, because of 
their purported involvement in Wahabi-style groups.  While 
Keshtah maintained that none of the Kazakhstani students had 
been linked to terrorist cells, he noted that some 
Kazakhstani students were susceptible to Wahabi-style groups, 
whose activities the Egyptian government does not find 
acceptable. 
MILAS

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