ND Officials attend Kazakhstan economic forum to further develop trade ties

FARGO, N.D. – North Dakota government and trade leaders will travel to Astana, Kazakhstan, the week of May 20, 2013, to attend the Astana Economic Forum, an annual event for economists and government leaders from Eurasia and around the world to discuss Kazakhstan's growing economy and international trade opportunities.

North Dakota is forging strong business ties in Kazakhstan, particularly involving the export of North Dakota's high-quality agricultural products,” said Lt. Gov. Drew Wrigley, chairman of the North Dakota Trade Office (NDTO) Board of Directors.  “This forum affords us a great opportunity to build on our success in the Kazakhstan marketplace.”

North Dakota representation at the forum will include Wrigley, Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring, NDTO Executive Director Dean Gorder, as well as leaders from North Dakota State University. The event, which be held May 21-24, aims to create a platform for dialogue among leaders of countries, world business leaders and some of Kazakhstan's largest agribusiness operations including KazAgro National and Mars-2, LLC, one of the largest food distribution companies in Kazakhstan.

“North Dakota and Kazakhstan already enjoy a good trading relationship, especially in agriculture-related products,” said Goehring. “Like North Dakota, Kazakhstan is a major producer of oil and wheat.”

Kazakhstan is North Dakota's  17th largest trading partner. North Dakota exports to Kazakhstan totaled $18.7 million last year and exceed $274 million in the last decade.  Since 2010, more than 5,000 Angus and Hereford cattle have been flown from Fargo to the former Soviet Republic countries, including Kazakhstan.  Other products exported from North Dakota to Kazakhstan include livestock handling equipment, genetics and other agricultural machinery.

"The continued presence of North Dakota in Kazakhstan has made a lasting impression on the Kazakh agribusiness sector. Our leaders are familiar with North Dakota and the agricultural expertise of the state," said Natalya Nesterenko, Central Asia Market Manager at NDTO. "This is an integral time for trade, as Kazakhstan is experiencing high economic growth and economic diversification is a stated priority for the government, which opens up considerable agribusiness opportunities for North Dakota companies."

While in Kazakhstan, leaders from North Dakota State University plan to sign memorandums of understanding (MOUs) with several universities throughout the country to promote continued research collaboration and academic cooperation, especially in the agriculture industry.

The Kazakhstan initiative is part of a larger strategy to promote North Dakota's high quality products in key international markets throughout the world.  According to U.S. Department of Commerce statistics, North Dakota's merchandise exports have grown nearly 320 percent since the conception of NDTO, from $1 billion in 2004 to $4.2 billion in 2012.