NEW DELHI: India and Central Asia’s biggest state Kazakhstan are exploring widening defence partnership including joint production as well as opening a new chapter in the heavy engineering sector.

Indian companies are in talks with Kazakhstan defence industries for co-production and co-development in defence production, according to a Ministry of Defence official.

Sanjay Jaju, Joint Secretary (DIP), Ministry of Defence, said both India and Kazakhstan are looking at exploring opportunities that provide win-win solutions to the industries on both sides.

Speaking at the inaugural of the India-Kazakhstan Defence Cooperation Expo, a two-day virtual expo jointly organized by FICCI and Ministry of Defence last week, Jaju said several Indian companies are already in talks with Kazakh defence industries for co-production and co-development in defence production.

“India has come a long way in defence manufacturing. From a very paltry base, we now manufacture the entire range of equipment for all three verticals of the forces. These items range in the best in class artillery guns to battle tanks to bulletproof jackets to combat aircraft and the entire range of ships and submarines, missiles, and everything that is required in maintaining the sovereignty and defence of a nation,” Jaju said.

Jaju said that the one important factor is not only to manufacture in India for India but also manufacture for all our friendly foreign nations. “We need to leverage opportunities on both sides and create opportunities not just for co-development and co-production but to also meet each other’s requirements,” he said.

“I’m aware that some companies are in an active dialogue stage with the Kazakh establishment. With India’s strengths in software coupled with strengths in hardware manufacturing, India is poised to be one of the major electronics manufacturing hubs in the world. The defence military complex that we have in India has participation from both public and private sector companies,” he further added.

Speaking at the event, Yerbol Bulakpaev, Head of Directorate, Department of Defence Production, Ministry of Industry and Infrastructure Development, Kazakhstan said that the number of priority areas highlighted by the two countries was recorded in the joint group meeting in 2018.

“We hope to discuss the range of issues in the repair, maintenance and upgrade of the Military equipment, R&D and look to establish joint ventures. The country is interested in the joint production of aerospace equipment,” he said.

On the roadmap for Development of Defence Industrial Cooperation and Indo-Kazakh military bilateral cooperation Bulakpaev said, “We are interested in cooperation in developing the robotised complex and land surveillance, and reconnaissance systems.”

Addressing the inaugural session of the defence cooperation expo, Prabhat Kumar, Ambassador of India to Kazakhstan said, “As the Ambassador to the Republic of Kazakhstan, nothing gives me more pleasure than to see our bilateral cooperation progressing rapidly signifying the strong bonds of strategic partnerships that have been forged.”

“The new agreement includes conduct of joint training, exercises, military-technical cooperation, UN Peacekeeping and exchange of intelligence. The strength of our robust bilateral defence cooperation can be gauged from the fact that a total of 246 officers from the Kazakh armed forces have been trained in India till date under the I-Tech defence program and we have a company level joint military exercise between both which is only done with select strategic partners,” Kumar said.

Yerlan Alimbayev, Ambassador of Kazakhstan to India said that the bilateral relationship between the two countries is very stable. There are positive dynamics which once again confirm the status of strategic partnership between the two countries.

“Striking example of high political trust between our countries is the joint peacekeeping activities within the framework of the UN mission in Lebanon which have additional impetus to the strengthening of the bilateral military cooperation,” Alimbayev said.

Both countries have the potential for further development in the military-technical development field. In this context, the existing joint working group on military-technical cooperation is an effective platform for establishing joint projects in military-industrial enterprises. “I am hopeful for the active participation of the Indian defence companies in the next defence expo in Kazakhstan,” he added.

Meanwhile on October 20 the Minister of Industry and Infrastructure Development of the Republic of Kazakhstan Beibut Atamkulov had a meeting with Indian delegation led by industrialist Sandeep Jajodia, Chairman and Founder of the Monnet Group.

The Indian company plans to build a metallurgical plant for the production of ferrosilicon in the Pavlodar region of Kazakhstan, with a capacity of up to 15 thousand tons per year, with a subsequent increase in capacity to 50 thousand tons. The preliminary value of the investment is $50 million and is supposed to grow up to $200 million.

The main products of the plant are export-oriented. The investment operator of the company is the “Kazakh Invest” National Company of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan.

Monnet Group was established in 1994 and the company’s business interests encompass setting up and operations of steel plants, manufacturing of sponge iron, pig iron and ferroalloys.