Kazakhstan Chamber of Commerce in the USA


President Nazarbayev Announces Five Key Reforms 0

Posted on March 22, 2015 by KazCham

Astana Times

Incumbent Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev on March 11 accepted the Nur Otan party’s nomination to be the party’s candidate in the April 26 early presidential election and laid out his policy priorities for another term.

In accepting the nomination, Nazarbayev noted the achievements of independent Kazakhstan and presented new approaches and policies, including those in the new Nurly Zhol economic policy, which is aimed at addressing global challenges.

“Firstly, avoid negative impacts from external factors on state-building. Secondly, maintain the momentum of development. Third, provide the conditions for further development. Fourth, continue advancing toward joining the 30 [most-developed] countries in the world,” he said.

Amid economic crises, falling oil prices and geopolitical instability, Nazarbayev stressed the need for non-standard and strong responses to global challenges to Kazakhstan statehood, putting forward institutional reforms in five key areas: establishing a modern, professional and autonomous state apparatus; solidifying the rule of law; achieving industrialisation and economic growth based on diversification; unifying as a single nation for the future; and functioning as a transparent and accountable government.

He underlined that in conjunction these reforms would strengthen the state and facilitate its entry into the 30 most-developed countries in the world.

“The five institutional reforms are the five steps, which the country should take in that order. Only in this case, our reforms will be effective and the society and the state will be united and stable. All successful states went through this path,” Nazarbayev said.

“It is a way to implement the Kazakhstan 2050 Strategy. Each of the five institutional reforms is a huge task and [important] for the country. The success of these reforms can be achieved only with the firm will of the government and the people. The proposed measures will radically change the system of social relations. To carry them out, I propose to establish a National Commission on Modernisation under the President. It will coordinate the implementation of the whole set of reforms. Thus, our central task in the forthcoming years is to start and gradually implement these five institutional reforms,” he added.

Elaborating on the reforms, he underlined the significance of overhauling the civil service, noting that it should be “professional and autonomous” and based on a career model rather than the current positional one. Nazarbayev also highlighted the need to toughen requirements for judges and increase the responsibility of police officers toward the people as it would create conditions for implementing economic reforms to establish a solid middle class.

“The middle class should be considered as the basis of the Kazakhstan nation and the source forming a professional state apparatus. It is the driving force, the most interested in the rule of law, accountability to the people and the country’s stability. Therefore, it is a broad middle class that is the core of the formation of national identity,” he said.

Addressing industrialisation, Nazarbayev underlined existing distortions in the system of state support for agriculture and proposed implementing approximately 10 large-scale projects involving multinational companies in the processing industry.

Other transformations will affect simplification of the tariff policy in the framework of the Eurasian Economic Union, diversification of the economy, development of small- and medium-sized businesses in the service sector and introducing legislation of the special status of Almaty as a regional and international finance centre.

The President also touched upon intercultural and inter-ethnic accord, a highly relevant issue for the country, which includes more than 130 nationalities. In Mr. Nazarbayev’s opinion, the simultaneous use of Kazakh, Russian and English were a key to success in preserving harmony and enhancing the competitiveness of the multinational society of Kazakhstan.


New Run in Kazakhstan?

Eurasia Review

On April 26 Kazakhstan will vote to choose the next president, as a way to respond to global economic and regional socio-political crisis. On February 25 Nursultan Nazarbayev took the decision to hold advanced poll, one year before the natural end of term of office, after that many state officials called for new election.

The proposal came from the Assembly of People of Kazakhstan (APK), an institutional body that represents ethnic groups of the country. Soon after, it was the presidential party Nur Otan to back the idea, followed by the Prime Minister and by the two houses of Parliament. Almost all political spectrum supported the initiative, with the declared intention to extend Nazarbayev’s mandate as president of the country, in order to let him, according to APK, “successfully steer the country in this period of global trials”.

Nazarbayev, indeed, still enjoys a widespread popularity in the country. In 2011 he was re-elected with an overwhelmingly majority and no real alternative from opposition emerged during the last years, due to the fact that the presidential bloc is still united.

However, even if at a first glance the call for early election seems to say nothing new about the Central Asian country, the events of the last days reveal much about the political choices of the last months.
With the decision to hold an advance poll, Kazakh political establishment intends to prevent the deterioration of national social climate and to breathe new life into economic reforms.

Modernization and political stability are key issues for Kazakhstan, especially if we consider that these two elements act as forces of consolidation of a society characterized by a broad ethnic and religious diversity.

For this reason, the negative economic outlook expected for the next years is seen not only as part of difficult times that will come, but as a potential source of social and political destabilization for Kazakhstan.

In 2014 Kazakhstan’s economy grew less than expected and with a rate much lower than those registered in previous years. For 2015 national GDP is going to grow even slower, between 1% and 2%.

Kazakhstan has cautiously promoted a moderate stance in inter-ethnic issue. In fact, since the gaining of independence, the aim of Nazarbayev was the strengthening of social concord, in order to avoid the disintegration of a country which is home of 130 nationalities and 17 religious communities.

With the decision to hold a new election, Kazakh élite is giving a response to all speculations about its future, in particular those regarding territorial integrity and ethnic concord, put into question by foreign media and politicians during 2014. Moreover, election is aimed to assure the continuity of a policy directed to build a multi-ethnic and secular state and, at the same time, to send out a signal about the will to protect the political and territorial unity of the country.

So, it isn’t surprising that Nazarbayev, during his annual speech to the nation on November 11, confirmed that stability political and social concord are fundamental factors for Kazakhstan in order to overcome the next years. Without them – according to Kazakh president- even economic development could be at risk. It’s for this reason that in the speech of February 25, when he announced the new election, he talked of “unity” and “stability”.

Economic development and social concord have been priorities present in the actual Kazakhstan, but now they acquire a new and stronger significance. The last year was marked by events that are part of world economic and geopolitical crisis that can produce their effects even in the internal affairs of the State.

In the past, economic development has been a mean to assure the survival of the country in a difficult post-soviet transition and to achieve the fundamental national interests. Nazarbayev has been successful in realising a huge economic growth, elevating the quality of life of Kazakhstani people and as a consequence, granting stability.

Therefore, election is seen as the opportunity to continue the programmed economic reforms and to implement the new ambitious plan Nurly Jol, announced last year, a comprehensive program of investments aimed to revitalise and diversify country’s economy.

Thanks to its “multi-vector” foreign policy, Kazakhstan succeed to impose itself as a reliable international player, acting as protagonist in Eurasian integration projects, cultivating strategic partnership with Russia and China and establishing closer ties with West and EU, as confirmed by the recent Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement signed in Brussels.

In a period of political and economic turbulence, the maintenance of stability could be an important result not only for Kazakhstan and its ruling class, but also for the entire region.

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Golovkin vs Murray results: GGG batters, stops Murray in 11th round 0

Posted on February 25, 2015 by KazCham

Bad Left Hook

Gennady Golovkin took a while to get the stoppage, but he made it 19 in a row against a very tough Martin Murray.

Gennady Golovkin [of Kazakhstan] stayed undefeated and ran his stoppage victory streak to 19 fights in Monte Carlo, putting away an incredibly durable and game Martin Murray in the 11th round, scoring three knockdowns and inflicting heavy punishment over the fight.

Golovkin (32-0, 29 KO) dropped Murray two times in the fourth round, and once more at the end of the 10th round. Referee Luis Pabon stepped in to stop the contest 50 seconds into the next frame, when Murray (29-2-1, 12 KO) was once again staggered on a right hand from Golovkin. It was the right call — overdue if anything — and a good decision by Pabon, a referee who has been criticized plenty over the years, but stepped in when nobody else would to save a fighter from himself and his own pride.

Murray really has nothing to be ashamed of with this performance, as he had some nice moments of success, and stood up pretty well to Golovkin overall, even with the knockdowns. He never gave up on himself in this fight, as he was battling until the very end. But unlike his prior world title fights, where he left without a belt under debatable circumstances, he was thoroughly beaten in this bout, and Golovkin left no doubts in anyone’s mind.

Golovkin, 32, retained his WBA middleweight title with this win, as well as the interim WBC title. Miguel Cotto, the lineal champion of the division, is still surely his target. Cotto also holds the full WBC title, which he won last June against Sergio Martinez.

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Scholarship Program for Afghan Students: Successful Contribution to Development and Peace 0

Posted on February 15, 2015 by KazCham

Astana Times

Kazakhstan’s $50 million scholarship programme for Afghan students is now almost five years old and, with 827 students having enrolled, nearing its final goal of educating 1,000 Afghan students in Kazakhstan’s educational institutions.

Since the programme began in 2010, when the first 158 students landed in Kazakhstan on Sept. 28, only four students have dropped out, Gulshara Tastemirova, senior coordinator working with Afghan students at Al-Farabi National University, told The Astana Times in a November interview. She considers the programme a great success so far.

In 2014, the first graduates – 15 from graduate programmes and 20 from bachelor’s or certificate programmes – returned to Afghanistan. “There was a big event [for their graduation] in the Ibn-e-Sina University in Kabul last August. Our graduates are proud of having earned their degrees from the universities of Kazakhstan.” Tastemirova said.

Tastemirova says she keeps in touch with the scholarship students she works with. “I do keep in touch with them. They send e-mails and call. Sometimes they ask for advice,” she said. Students at post-secondary schools – the equivalent of American community colleges – often want to stay and do second degrees, she said, though the terms of the scholarship programme means the Kazakh government can’t finance them.

The scholarship students receive stipends in addition to accommodation and tuition. “The students don’t pay tuition and accommodation in dormitories. “We receive twice the stipend of local students,” Ahmad Wali Ahmad Yar, a scholarship student who began his language studies in 2010, told The Astana Times in February.

Ahmad Yar works as a volunteer in the Ariana Social Centre, a nonprofit organisation working for social support and upliftment of the Afghan diaspora in Kazakhstan, he said. He also helps out as an interpreter for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugee’s office.

Ahmad Yar began his journey to Kazakhstan after finishing high school in Kabul, when he was among 20,000 students out of 100,000 who were granted the opportunity to go on to receive higher education in government institutes and universities, he said. “I was among those who successfully passed the exam for higher education in one of the best state universities. Soon after entering university, we were informed about Kazakhstan scholarships by university officials.”

In 2010, he said, there were 3,000 candidates and 154 were given scholarships, mostly for medical studies, civil engineering, computer science, agriculture and journalism. “I was the only student in the field of international relations,” he said. Most Afghan students in Kazakhstan have chosen to study scientific majors, especially engineering and medicine. Law is also popular, Tastemirova said.

“From childhood, I was interested in politics and international relations: that is why I chose this particular speciality. It is challenging but very interesting for me,” said Ahmad Yar. “Since my schooldays, I’ve been thinking on how I can help in building a new Afghanistan, which will have good relations with its neighbours and will become the main bridge and transport hub between Central and South Asian countries.”

Before beginning their studies, Afghan students also get language training at Al-Farabi Kazakh National University in Almaty. “It was decided that they will study in the Kazakh language since it is a government scholarship,” Tastemirova said. With the help of another Afghan student, they have created a Kazakh-Russian-Pashtun conversation book, she noted.

“A student who studies in Kazakh will understand our people’s mentality better,” Tastemirova explained. “For example, he or she will learn Kazakh culture, traditions, et cetera.” Undergraduate scholarship students learn Russian and Kazakh, and from their second semester begin studies in the history of Kazakhstan, mathematics and other subjects depending on their majors, she said. Those who pursue a graduate degree study in Russian.

It can take some time to get up to speed on the new languages, Ahmad Yar admitted. “I mostly concentrated on Kazakh because it was the official language of Kazakhstan and we were studying in a government programme,” he said. “In June 2011, when I finished language preparation course … I was fluent in Kazakh but not in a university level. In the first year I faced slight language problems; then everything became normal in the second year.”

The scholarship students are ethnically diverse, but women are still not well represented among them. Their numbers have grown somewhat, however, Tastemirova said. “The number is growing every year. For example, in 2010 at the Al-Farabi Kazakh National University, 77 students were enrolled in foundation programme and all of them were males. In 2011 there was one woman, in 2012 one woman, in 2013 seven women and in 2014 nine women already. I raised this particular issue over my last visit to Afghanistan,” she said.

Among the scholarship students are ethnic Pashtuns, Tajiks, Uzbeks and Hazaras, as well as a few ethnic Turkmen and one or two ethnic Kazakhs from Afghanistan, Tastemirova said.

Ahmad Yar says he’s never faced discrimination as a foreigner in Kazakhstan. “In the first year of the preparation course, we were studying and living with students from different countries and backgrounds, but then in the first year of university, I was the only foreign student studying in the Kazakh group in my faculty,” he explained. “I was worried that I may face problems, but my group mates and the behaviour of our teachers were very friendly, and they became the reason for me to go ahead.”

He has enjoyed being able to tell curious classmates about his country, Ahmad Yar said. “Usually, students and friends were asking me about the situation in Afghanistan because most of them had very negative ideas about Afghanistan. I tried to show them the reality about Afghanistan through presentations, participation in conferences and publishing articles.” The scholarship student says he has participated in conferences held by the UN and USAID and the Assembly of the People of Kazakhstan, as well as other nongovernmental organisations and universities.

Ahmad Yar says he plans to continue his education and do a master’s degree in world economics, political science or international relations. “Afghanistan is rising. After four decades of war and instability, it needs educated and well-trained people to work and it is for us to prepare ourselves as the best educated alternative for the wider society, instead of the uneducated warlords who once again want to turn Afghanistan into their personal fiefdom,” he notes.

The student says he wants to contribute to Afghanistan through institutional reform, democratic principles and the elimination of bureaucracy, which he says will lead to stability and autonomy.

He can also envision returning to Kazakhstan and says he is grateful to the government and the people of the country for the scholarship. “During the last years of study, I have gotten significant knowledge about Kazakhstan and Central Asia. I am quite sure that I can contribute toward straightening relations between Afghanistan and Central Asia … I will never forget Kazakhstan, and it will remain as my second home in my heart,” Ahmad Yar said.

Kazakh officials have said that the possibility of extending the programme is being considered.

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Kazakhstan seeks presence in potash market with $3.8 billion China investment 0

Posted on January 31, 2015 by KazCham

Business Intelligence from Colibri Law Firm: Issue #100

It is planned to establish three new ventures on production of potash fertilizers with a total capacity of over 7 million tons per year in Aktobe and West Kazakhstan regions. China would invest $3.8 billion in the development of Kazakhstan’s potash deposits and in fertilizer output, aiming to increase production to 7 million tonnes in 2025 from a current 1 million.

The total investment in the project is estimated at more than 3 billion US dollars. It is planned to create 5,100 new jobs until 2022.

The construction of the first complex in Aktobe region will begin in the second half of 2015, in the West Kazakhstan region — in 2016.

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Construction of two nuclear plants to be commenced by 2018 0

Posted on January 29, 2015 by KazCham

Business Intelligence from Colibri Law Firm: Issue #100

In 2014 the state nuclear company KazAtomProm and Russian Rosatom signed a cooperation deal on nuclear power, as well as a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on a new nuclear power plant. The design and size of the plant remains open, and was listed only as having generating capacity of 300-1200 MWe. Its siting will be in the Mangistau region (city Aktau).

In 2018 it is expected to commence construction in Kazakhstan of a second nuclear power plant. The location of the second nuclear power plant will be in the village Ulken (a town in the East Kazakhstan region).

After a program of expansion and joint ventures with foreign partners, Kazakhstan now produces about 22,550 tonnes of uranium per year – about 38% of the global total.

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ALSTOM has agreed to purchase an additional 25% stake in locomotive joint venture EKZ 0

Posted on January 28, 2015 by KazCham

Business Intelligence from Colibri Law Firm: Issue #100

ALSTOM has agreed to purchase an additional 25% stake in its Kazakhstan locomotive joint venture EKZ from Kazakhstan Railways (KTZ) increasing its holding to 50%, which will expand the company’s scope to include maintenance activities through a dedicated facility in Astana.

EKZ’s plant in Kazakhstan is already assembling locomotives for the CIS market, with plans to shift complete production to Astana from Alstom’s Belfort facility next year as the company continues to work on a $US 1.3bn contract for 295 locomotives awarded in 2010 which is due to be completed by 2020. Indeed 24 KZ8A electric locomotives are already in operation in Kazakhstan. Azerbaijan also awarded EKZ a contract worth €300m for 50 KZ8A locomotives in May.

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Burgundy firm CLEIA signs major brickworks contract 0

Posted on January 28, 2015 by KazCham

Business Intelligence from Colibri Law Firm: Issue #100

Absolut Keramik have trusted CLEIA for the construction of the most modern brick plant of the Republic of Kazakhstan.

This CLEIA contract for more than 17.5 M€ of high technologies – made in France – will allow an annual output of 40 Millions of high quality facing bricks and insulating blocks at the Russian format. These new clay insulating blocks are an excellent natural thermal insulator that helps to improve home comfort. Well-insulated housing will make energy savings while better protecting the environment.

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Kazakhstan and China plan to establish JVs producing nuclear fuel 0

Posted on January 26, 2015 by KazCham

Business Intelligence from Colibri Law Firm: Issue #100

“Kazatomprom” and the Chinese General Nuclear Power Corporation has signed a memorandum on expanding and deepening mutually beneficial cooperation in the field of nuclear energy.

According to the press release, the document provides for the establishment in Kazakhstan joint ventures to produce nuclear fuel and nuclear fuel assemblies for NPPs in China and third countries, as well as companies for the development of uranium resources.

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Kazakhstan’s film industry thrives 0

Posted on January 25, 2015 by KazCham

The Astana Times

Kazakhstan is utilizing its thriving film industry to define its own image on the international stage. The Almaty-based Kazakhfilm company has brought the work of young actors and directors to international audiences through the means of numerous scholarships and grants. Already it has created some of Kazakhstan’s biggest critical and commercial hits including the award-winning films “Harmony Lessons” (2013), “Shal” (2012) and “Myn Bala” (2011).

According to Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Culture and Sport , the company collaborates with various institutions like Zhurgenov National University of the Arts, the Gerasimov Institute of Cinematography in Moscow, the New York Film Academy and the St. Petersburg State University of Film and Television, in order to train budding film makers and actors in all technical and creative aspects of the art.

“National film production” is a part of the  national budget, and young filmmakers who fare well in the international film festival circuit are often given support from Kazakhfilm to create their next project “if there is a script on a socially significant theme.”

Kazakhstan’s film industry launched prominently in 1942 – 1944, when Soviet filmmakers Vsevolod Pudovkin, Dziga Vertov and SergeiEisenstein were evacuated to Almaty during the Second World War. Kazakh films were influenced by the Russian style and developed gradually into an intense landscape.

Kazakhfilm began its life as Alma-Ata Film Studios in 1941 before being renamed in 1961. After the country’s independence, the industry struggled, much like the rest of the nation. Yet in 2005 it began a renaissance, with the big-budget Nomad, saw over $37 million being invested in technology and people. This led to a string of socially profound and engaging movies.

In 2010, Kazakhfilm produced the country’s highest-grossing domestic film, “Tale of the Pink Bunny.” Between 2008 and 2010, the share of domestic films increased from 3 percent to 7 percent in Kazakhstan. With rising volume and talent, investment in infrastructure and robust distribution channels, the Kazakh film industry is now emerging as a promising sector of the Kazakh economy, as well as an instrument for international prestige.

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Shifting the accents in Kazakh economy 0

Posted on January 24, 2015 by KazCham

Business Intelligence from Colibri Law Firm: Issue #100

Within the framework of the State program of accelerated industrial-innovative development of the Republic of Kazakhstan for 2015-2019 there have been concluded the investment agreements with China. The purpose is to get away from the raw model development and focus on engineering, especially transport, development of petrochemical and refining in order to export the finished fuel rather than crude oil. This includes, inter alia:

  1. The second stage of the aluminum plant in Pavlodar, which will double the capacity of the plant to five hundred thousand Tons;
  2. The quality steel plant in Rudny or Kostanay;
  3. New refineries and petrochemical industries pair;
  4. The copper smelting plant with complete production cycle of cable products;
  5. The enterprises for the production of construction materials;
  6. Agricultural production.

Furthermore, the parties have reached an agreement on the implementation of mutual settlements in tenge and yuan in order to de-dollarization of the economy.

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