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The French prime minister, currently on a visit to Astana,
The French prime minister, currently on a visit to Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan, has called on Kazakh businessmen to invest in his country's economy.

Francois Fillon arrived in Astana on Friday in the first ever visit to Kazakhstan by a French head of government.

"I propose to Kazakh investors that they take an interest in France, which is growing increasingly dynamic. We are ready to cooperate with you," Fillon told a news conference, following talks with Kazakh Prime Minister Karim Masimov.

The parties signed a number of documents, including a strategic partnership declaration of intent, a motor freight transportation agreement, a confidentiality agreement, and a declaration of intent in the tourist industry.

"One in a dozen liters of oil and one in 12 tons of uranium that France consumes are delivered from Kazakhstan," the French premier said. "Our economic relations are developing successfully and have great prospects."

France is Kazakhstan's fifth largest trade partner after Russia, China, Switzerland and Italy. Bilateral trade exceeded $4 billion in 2007, with French investment in the Kazakh economy at $3.7 billion.

France considers Kazakhstan an important and promising partner as it seeks to expand cooperation with fuel producing countries.

Kazakhstan exports mostly crude, metals, chemical and agricultural products. It imports from France electronic and mechanical equipment, consumer goods, medicines, cosmetics, perfume, cars, foodstuffs, construction materials, wine and clothes.

Over 40 French companies operate in Kazakhstan's oil and gas, mining, energy, transport and services sectors.

French President Nicholas Sarkozy is set to visit Kazakhstan in 2009.


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