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WASHINGTON, May 12, 2006Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns today invited U.S. agribusiness firms to participate in a trade and investment mission to Astana and Almaty, Kazakhstan, July 23-28, 2006.

"I look forward to leading this trade and investment mission that will strengthen the relationship between the United States and Kazakhstan," said Johanns. "Kazakhstan has the largest overall economy and the largest agricultural economy in Central Asia, producing and exporting more grain than any other country in the region. I greatly encourage agribusiness firms to take advantage of this mission to establish new markets for American farm products and advance opportunities for investment."

Johanns previously traveled to Kazakhstan earlier this year to lead the U.S. delegation at the inauguration of President Nursultan Nazarbayev.

The goal of the mission is to promote trade and investment, particularly in agricultural commodities, food products, agricultural machinery, agricultural inputs, livestock genetics and food processing equipment. While in Kazakhstan, mission participants will meet with government and agribusiness officials and have the opportunity to form partnerships with local entrepreneurs.

Kazakhstan's real GDP is expected to grow by more than eight percent in the 2006-2007 period and already is the largest economy in Central Asia. Kazakhstan's banking system is recognized as the best in Central Asia and Eastern Europe according to the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, making it an attractive investment climate as evidenced by the highest level of foreign direct investment in Central Asia.

Approximately 15 U.S. agribusinesses will be selected to participate in this mission. For more information, contact Darrell Upshaw with USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service at tel.: 202-690-1339 or e-mail:


USDA Release No. 0165.06
FAS PR 0056-06

USDA Contact: Ed Loyd (202) 720-4623
FAS Contact: Donald Washington (202) 720-3101

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