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David Cameron seeks Kazakhstan deal as trade trumps human rights

Author: Nicholas Watt, The Guardian , Published on: 1 July 2013

David Cameron hopes to trigger a series of business deals in the oil-rich republic of Kazakhstan worth up to £85bn over the next decade and has made it clear that he is placing Britain's role in the economic "global race" above the defence of human rights. As he opened a new oil plant linked to the vast $136bn (£89bn) Kashagan oilfield in the Caspian Sea, the prime minister said he had disturbed his weekend to promote British businesses rather than challenge the authoritarian Kazakh president, Nursultan Nazarbayev, on human rights. The prime minister...said he would only raise human rights with the president as a subsidiary issue...But Amnesty International called on the prime minister to pay close attention to Kazakhstan's human rights record after the shooting dead of 12 people in Zhanaozen in the west of the country in 2011 during a protest by oil workers...Allan Hogarth, Amnesty International's UK head of policy and government affairs, said:..."There are reports that the police in Kazakhstan have beaten up and detained oil workers who'd gone on strike to protest at the management's refusal to allow an independent trade union." The business leaders accompanying the prime minister, including representatives from Shell, BG and Petrofac, are due to close deals worth £700m...The prime minister urged Nazarbayev to move to the next stage of the development of the Kashagan oilfield. This would benefit Shell, which has a substantial stake in the oilfield, and smaller British companies in the supply chain such as Wood Group.

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Related companies: BG Group (part of Shell) Petrofac Royal Dutch Shell (Shell)