Wilo participates in historic economic summit with Central Asian Heads of State
As one of 40 selected German company representatives, Oliver Hermes, President & CEO of the Wilo Group, took part in an economic summit with the heads of state, ministers and ambassadors of all five Central Asian states in Berlin on 29 September. The German Eastern Business Association had invited to this historic meeting on the occasion of political talks between Chancellor Olaf Scholz and the heads of state of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan. The evening before, Oliver Hermes, who as Honorary Consul of the Republic of Kazakhstan in North Rhine-Westphalia is particularly committed to German-Kazakh (economic) relations, was also invited to an exclusive dinner with the President of Kazakhstan, H.E. Kassym-Shomart Tokayev.
"Looking at the high reserves of natural resources, which are significant for the energy transition in Europe, but also in the context of diversifying economic relations in the face of geopolitical challenges, the Central Asia region will play an even more important strategic role in the future - for the entire European economy and for the Wilo Group”, explained Oliver Hermes, President & CEO of the Wilo Group, before his departure for Berlin.
Setting strategic priorities for economic cooperation with Central Asia
The talks in Berlin focused primarily on regional economic projects. On behalf of its member companies, the German Eastern Business Association proposed five focal points for intensifying cooperation: The production of green energy and its use in the form of hydrogen, local raw material extraction and processing, the modernisation of agriculture and water management, the expansion of transport infrastructure and cooperation in vocational training. For example, Central Asia's raw material reserves could be harnessed even more for the generation of green energy, the refinement of urgently needed raw materials and the production of high-quality food. And while German companies are suffering from a massive shortage of skilled workers, the Central Asian states are currently looking for training and employment opportunities for their baby boomers. The Wilo Group is already active in all of the above-mentioned areas and intends to continue making an important contribution to the sustainable economic development of the Central Asian region in the future. Accordingly, Oliver Hermes welcomed the agreed creation of a "Berlin List" of multilateral projects in Central Asia, which will be jointly selected and flanked.
In view of the profound geopolitical change in international economic relations and new supply corridors from China via Central Asia and the South Caucasus to Southeast Europe, the Committee on Eastern European Economic Relations also called for stronger European engagement in Central Asia. The EU must facilitate the export of raw materials urgently needed for the energy transition in Europe with trade agreements and strategic frameworks. Furthermore, it must invest in the expansion of the Middle Corridor across the Caspian Sea towards Southeast Europe. In addition, it is important for the EU to view the region as a whole, even across countries. Deepened regional cooperation is of central importance, and the five countries are already making very positive efforts in this regard.
Making even greater use of regional economic potential
The Wilo Group has been present in Central Asia since 1998. Since 2002, the location in Almaty, Kazakhstan, with spacious production, storage, service and office areas and a total of 33 employees, has acted as a platform for the entire Central Asian market. At the same time, another subsidiary was recently established in Uzbekistan. "We expect a significantly disproportionate growth of our business activities in Central Asia and will successively deepen our value creation there regionally and locally," says Oliver Hermes.
The five Central Asian countries together form a market of around 80 million people, in an area eleven times larger than the Federal Republic of Germany. In the first half of 2023, Germany traded goods worth 5.5 billion euros with the five Central Asian states, an increase of 11.5 per cent compared to the same period last year. Exports and imports are balanced overall. By far the most important economic partner was Kazakhstan with a trade volume of 4.4 billion euros alone, followed by Uzbekistan with 550 million euros and Kyrgyzstan with 380 million euros. All in all, German companies have invested over ten billion euros in Central Asia so far, creating over 35,000 jobs. Already around 900 companies with German capital participation produce and offer services in the region.