Agreements, declarations mark Macron visits to Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan

03 November 2023

France and Kazakhstan have pledged cooperation on minerals and the nuclear fuel cycle, while in Uzbekistan there was agreement to raise the level of bilateral relations, during official visits by President Emmanuel Macron this week. The French president was accompanied by a large delegation including representatives from French industry.

President Mirziyoyev (on the right) welcomes Macron in Samarkand (Image: President of Uzbekistan)

In Kazakhstan, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev and Macron agreed in a joint declaration, issued on 1 November, to promote enhanced trade and cooperation in nuclear energy and on strategic minerals. The visit also saw Kazatomprom and Framatome sign an agreement on cooperation in the nuclear fuel cycle.

"Kazakhstan is the world's top uranium producer, contributing over a quarter of nuclear fuel consumed in Europe," the Kazakh leader said. "With nuclear power comprising 63% of France's energy sector, there is a vast potential for further cooperation."

France is one of Kazakhstan's largest trading partners, and also one of its main foreign investors, Tokayev said, investing about USD18.7 billion in the Kazakh economy over the past 15 years. "Today we are implementing important projects in the energy, nuclear industry, mining, chemical industry, machinery, construction, aerospace and pharmaceutics. The successful operation of more than 170 French companies, such as Alstom, Total Energies, Orano, Vicat, in our country proves this fact," he added.

During the visit, Kazakh nuclear company Kazatomprom and Framatome of France signed an agreement on the development of mutually beneficial cooperation in the field of the nuclear fuel cycle.

"Framatome is one of the strategically important partners for Kazatomprom in the development of nuclear fuel cycle projects. I am confident that joint work will allow us to open up new prospects for the development of bilateral relations between our countries in the field of peaceful use of nuclear energy", said Meirzhan Yussupov, Kazatomprom's CEO.

Kaztomprom and Framatome signed the agreement on 1 November (Image: Kazatomprom)

The agreement provides for the expansion of mutually beneficial cooperation between the companies to implement joint promising projects in the field of the nuclear fuel cycle, as well as the education and training of specialists, Kazatomprom said.

"Framatome is pleased to have signed today this agreement with Kazatomprom, the world's largest uranium producer. It strengthens our long-time partnership and will enable us to extend our cooperation in the field of nuclear fuel cycle," said Vincent Mercier, Fuel Business Unit, Sales & Marketing Vice President on behalf of Framatome.

French companies have a long history of cooperation with Kazakhstan's nuclear sector: the Ulba-FA nuclear fuel assembly plant in Ust-Kamenogorsk, which uses Framatome technology to produce fuel for Chinese nuclear power plants, opened in 2021, while EDF is one of four nuclear reactor vendors shortlisted to supply Kazakhstan's first nuclear power plant.

Strategic partnership

Macron's visit to Uzbekistan on 2 November was the first visit to the country by a French president in more than 30 years. At their meeting in Samarkand, the presidents of the two countries agreed to raise their bilateral relations to the level of a strategic partnership. The leaders' dialogue follows President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev's official visit to France in November 2022, during which Orano Mining, the State Committee for Geology and Mineral Resources of the Republic of Uzbekistan and Uzbek state-owned enterprise Navoiyuran signed a strategic agreement laying the foundations for the development of new uranium mines in Uzbekistan.

Mirziyoyev described Macron's visit as "a clear confirmation of your personal attention and special approach to the further development and strengthening of Uzbek-French friendly and multilateral cooperation relations." The Uzbek presidency said the portfolio of current and prospective projects exceeds EUR10 billion, with French companies including Orano, EDF, Total, SUEZ, and others successfully operating in the country.

Luc Remont's meeting with President Mirziyoyev (Image: President of Uzbekistan)

A joint business forum was held as part of the business programme of the official visit, during which Mirziyoyev held separate meetings with EDF Chairman and CEO Luc Remont and Orano Chairman Claude Imovin. Initiatives to expand cooperation in geological exploration and uranium mining were supported at the meeting between Mirziyoyev and Imovin, the Uzbek presidency said.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News