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Kazakhstan and China Forge New Travel Alliance with Mutual Visa-Free Agreement

By Vusala Abbasova May 18, 2023

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Under the new arrangement, citizens of both countries can enjoy visa-free travel for up to 30 days.

Kazakhstan and China have taken significant steps towards enhancing collaboration in the tourism sector, aiming to boost the number of visitors travelling between the two countries.

During his state visit to China on Wednesday, Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev met with Chinese President Xi Jinping and signed 23 crucial agreements, including a bilateral visa exemption arrangement.

The plans to establish a visa-free regime were first announced in April and have now been realized with the signing of the agreement between the governments of Kazakhstan and China. Under this new arrangement, citizens of both countries can enjoy visa-free travel for up to 30 days. The visa exemption covers various purposes, including tourism, medical treatment, international transportation, transit, and business activities.

According to the terms of the agreement, Kazakh citizens can use their passports and a certificate of return to Kazakhstan as valid travel documents, while Chinese citizens can use their semi-service passports, regular passport, or temporary travel document. Travellers are allowed to stay up to 30 calendar days from the date of crossing the state border and a total of 90 calendar days within a 180-day period in both countries. For longer stays, individuals are required to obtain a visa prior to entering the country.

Earlier, Chinese citizens were allowed to stay in Kazakhstan for up to 14 days without a visa starting from June 2022, while Kazakh citizens were required to obtain a Chinese visa. This unilateral gesture by the Kazakh authorities applied to nationals from three countries: China, Iran, and India.

Some experts believe that the implementation of the visa-free regime is expected to greatly enhance the flexibility of Kazakh businesses, enabling them to access not only the local market but also the Central Asian, Eurasian, and Chinese markets more efficiently.

The deepening cooperation between Kazakhstan and China in the tourism sector is poised to foster closer economic ties, facilitate cultural exchange, and boost the number of visitors travelling between the two countries. The visa exemption agreement signifies a milestone in their bilateral relations and holds immense potential for further growth and collaboration in various fields. Both nations stand to benefit from the increased opportunities for trade, investment, and cultural exchange, reinforcing their long-standing partnership.

Strategically situated between China and Europe, Kazakhstan holds a pivotal position along the Belt and Road Initiative, serving as a crucial transit hub for international trade. With a border extending over 1,700 kilometers, Kazakhstan is one of China's most significant neighbours. Since gaining independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, China has emerged as Kazakhstan's second-largest trading partner and its primary export destination.

The bilateral trade value between Kazakhstan and China reached $24.1 billion in 2022, reflecting a 34.1 percent increase compared to the previous year. Over the period of 2020 to 2022, China invested a substantial amount of $8.8 billion in Kazakhstan.