Kazakhstan Chamber of Commerce in the USA

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ADB to provide $200 million for SMEs in Kazakhstan 0

Posted on November 19, 2016 by KazCham

Centil Law Firm BI@centil.law

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a $200 million equivalent loan to provide much-needed financing in local currency to micro, small- and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) in Kazakhstan.

The loan will be channelled through the Damu Entrepreneurship Development Fund, a government-owned agency mandated to provide loans and guarantees to MSMEs through qualified microfinance organisations and local banks. The ADB loan will be provided in tenge to reduce currency-related risks for financial institutions and their borrowers.

In addition to the loan, the ADB will provide a technical assistance grant of $500,000, financed by the Government of Luxembourg through the Financial Sector Development Partnership Special Fund to help improve the credit risk management of selected financial institutions and expand financing opportunities for MSMEs.

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FUTURE ENERGY: 217 DAYS TILL BEGINNING OF THE ASTANA EXPO 2017 0

Posted on November 16, 2016 by KazCham

EXPO 2017 Begins Transfer of Pavilions to Participants, Construction on Schedule

Astana Times

Individuals connected with EXPO 2017 unveiled the designs of the Kazakh, German and Chinese pavilions as the buildings were transferred to the participating countries on Oct. 31.

Chairman of Astana EXPO 2017 national company Akhmetzhan Yessimov noted construction of the main pavilion, informally known as the “Ball” or “Sphere,” will be finished by the New Year’s. Work on the interior will then begin. “The ‘ball’ is the main pavilion. It will be completed by the end of this year, but there is a lot of work on the content filling, which will take place until May of next year. There will be eight floors and each will disclose certain themes of the exhibition: space, solar, wind, water and so on. The same can be said of the thematic pavilions; they are completed and now the work on the content will begin. The most important thing is the construction of all the facilities will be completed for the New Year, in addition to the Congress Hall and the hotel. They will be needed only during the exhibition, so all works are on schedule. In addition, public areas will be completed in the spring,” he said as the ceremony.

The details of the German pavilion, called Energy Turnaround, were explained by German Ambassador in Kazakhstan Rolf Mafael. Astana Akim (mayor) Asset Issekeshev was present for the event.

“It means a transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy and energy-effective management. The national pavilion will be in four stages. First, visitors are offered to feel the new world of the future of energy. In the second, the audience will be presented with a new energy map of the world and the layout of the wind park in Yereimentau. In the next room, visitors can get acquainted with the ‘smart’ city, like in a computer – the prospect of increasing or decreasing from a global to a local perspective. In the last room, we will feel what the energy turnaround is. All visitors at the beginning will get a small drive stick and with it they will be able to activate all the exhibits – to be able to touch and study them. At the end, they will accumulate energy and see what they can do with this energy. This is a great laser show,” he said.

China is second in the world in renewable energy sources (RES), noted Chinese EXPO 2017 Commissioner Wang Tszinchzhen.

“We want to take this opportunity to show our achievements in the field of renewable energy. We are also going to present a number of events on the topic of technology, for example in the field of tourism, as well as take part in the forums on the subject of technology. China’s largest technology company will present their achievements. We will hold a few forums on this subject and we are prepared in this regard to support the Kazakh company. We are ready to assist not only in the energy sector, but also in the agro-industrial complex and other areas. We invite all of the business community to our pavilions to discuss ways of cooperation,” he said.

The completion of five key exhibition objects was also announced – International Pavilion, EXPO Town with 1,374 rooms, EXPO office building, Department of the Interior and Energy Research Centre.

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Kazakhstan Bonds Are Better Than U.S. Treasurys 0

Posted on November 10, 2016 by KazCham

Forbes

Believe it or not, over the last three months, Kazakhstan bond investors have done a better job preserving wealth than those holding Treasury debt. In fact, Treasury bonds and Kazakhstan bonds, both investment grade (though KZ obviously on the low end of the scale) have seen their prices rise and yield contract. But since August, there has been a great unwinding of old-QE economy debt and KZ stands as the perfect testament to that. How can this little known asset be one of the best bond markets around?

The last time Kazakhstan issued a sovereign bond was in 2015 for 2024 and 2044 bonds yielding around 4.6% and 6.2% respectively in dollars. But as of Wednesday, the 2024s were yielding just 3.6%, a full 100 basis points lower.

In other words, Kazakhstan bonds have buyers. U.S. government debt has sellers.

“If this keeps up, I think you have to go and buy bonds elsewhere for a better return,” says Jan Dehn, head of research at Ashmore Group in London, a $52.6 billion emerging markets fund manager with holdings in Kazakhstan. “For an investment grade credit, their yield is okay. Their ability and their willingness to pay debt is very high. You have more indebted investment grade countries in the West that pay outright negative yields,” he says.

Something is happening in the developed economies. They are recognizing that negative interest rates are bad for financials. Zero interest rates are not doing what they were supposed to, get corporations to invest, and quantitative easing has been all about the major central banks, namely the Federal Reserve and European Central Bank, buying and selling bonds and debt derivatives at a penny more than they bought them the day before, pushing yields to the floor. That trade is unwinding. Countries like Kazakhstan that are seen as a generally low credit risk will benefit, even as volatility is expected once the QE trade draws down.

Moody’s changed its outlook on Kazakhstan debt to negative in April, which is a 12 month warning that KZ might lose its investment grade title. Oil prices were of course to blame. But on Oct. 31, Fitch affirmed KZ’s BBB rating with a stable outlook.  Good news.

Kazakhstan’s economy is the best of the ‘Stans. “It’s even much more interesting for investors than Ukraine, for example,” says Arent Thijsen, a fund manager with Blauwtulp Wealth Management in Rotterdam.

The currency, clobbered over the last three years, has been strengthening since February. UBS in London and Renaissance Capital in Moscow expect the currency to remain stable rather than move in one direction for long, according to reports published in early October.

Says Dehn in London, “If for some reasons KZ loses its investment grade, I would buy more.”

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10 of the best places to go skiing – readers’ tips 0

Posted on November 09, 2016 by KazCham

The Guardian

From the country’s largest city, Almaty, the Shymbulak ski slopes are on your doorstep and everything is easy and reasonably priced. The resort is small, but there were no queues at any point. From the gondola at Medeu to the toilets and lockers at the slopes, the services are all fine. It’s not a resort for novices though: the main long slopes are red and there are only a few short blues. At 4pm the slopes are in the shade and get icy. It’s well worth going over to the other side of the mountain, for glacier views, and three short blue slopes. Of course, flying to Kazakhstan is expensive but the skiing can be made very cheap by renting gear from Extremal on the corner of Dostyk and Al Ferabi streets in Almaty: it’s half the price of the slopes rental place. Take the frequent number 12 bus from Extremal to the Medeu gondola.

• Weekday ski pass £12 (£19 at weekends).

Read more at The Guardian

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Kazakhstan among Top Global Improvers in Doing Business Report 0

Posted on November 09, 2016 by KazCham

Astana Calling

The 2017 World Bank Doing Business report, released Oct. 25, noted Kazakhstan is among the 10 most-improved economies, climbing 16 positions since 2015. The country is ranked 35th among 190 nations in the category “ease of doing business.”

Joining Kazakhstan on the top improvers list, the result of implementing at least three reforms in the past year, are Brunei, Kenya, Belarus, Indonesia, Serbia, Georgia, Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain.

“This significant improvement has been ensured by four of 10 indicators; namely, by facilitating the procedures for obtaining permits for construction, ease of registering property, improving the protection of the rights of minority investors and contract enforcement. It is a good achievement for Kazakhstan,” Centre for Strategic Initiatives senior partner Olzhas Khudaibergenov told The Astana Times.

Improved performance in the Doing Business ranking typically indicates a lower level of income inequality and reduced poverty.

Read more at Astana Calling

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The Interview of the Ambassador Kairat Umarov to the Diplomatic Connections 0

Posted on November 07, 2016 by KazCham

Diplomatic Connections

Outside the Kazakhstan Embassy in Washington, D.C. stands a statue of the “Golden Warrior” astride the figure of a winged snow leopard from Kazakh folklore. The “Golden Warrior” is a replica of a gold plated suit that clothed the skeleton of an ancient prince and was discovered as part of the 1969 excavation of a burial mound from nomadic Scythian-Saka civilization (VII BC). The statue is not only an icon of Kazakhstan’s independence but a patriotic reflection of the country’s proud history of defending its lands from invaders, ancient cultural heritage, accomplishments and hopes for a peaceful, secure and prosperous future. This year it also marks an important anniversary, 25 years of Kazakhstan’s independence.

Ambassador Kairat Umarov embodies the legacy of the Golden Warrior tradition pursuing peace and security as he seeks to extend his country’s diplomatic presence in Washington, D.C. He was kind enough to extend “Diplomatic Connections” an in-depth interview.

Diplomatic Connections: How did the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 affect Kazakhstan’s diplomatic efforts? It was suddenly a very different proposition no longer to be a Soviet republic but to be an independent state.

Ambassador Umarov: Exactly. We had to build our foreign ministry from scratch. All the rest of the ministries had more or less existed as part of the regional government dealing with local issues within the framework of the Soviet Union. But, becoming an independent country meant that it was necessary to deal not only with regional issues but with the whole range of global issues. That was a very difficult and challenging time.

Diplomatic Connections: What was it like to join this fledgling Foreign Ministry? 

Ambassador Umarov: When Kazakhstan became independent a set of rules and principles was presented to those entering the Foreign Service. One of those rules was that a diplomat must work for the good of the state and its people; but at the same time, a diplomat is expected to facilitate relations between states in order to avoid conflict and ensure peace and stability.

We continue to cherish those goals in our Ministry of Foreign Affairs. We hold them in very high esteem. I am very glad that today we have a highly professional foreign service which has more than 70 diplomatic missions all over the world, where 25 years ago there was nothing.

Diplomatic Connections: Kazakhstan occupies a unique geostrategic space, literally between Europe and Asia. How does geography affect Kazakhstan’s diplomacy?

Ambassador Umarov: Geography plays an important role in our foreign policy. Kazakhstan is at the heart of Eurasia. We have the world’s longest border with Russia, longer than the border between the United States and Canada. We have a long border with China. Our neighbors are Central Asian countries, and we are in close proximity to India, Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan. We are at the crossroads of civilizations serving as a bridge between East and West, North and South.

Our position from the very first days of our independence was to develop friendly relations, cooperative ties with our neighbors and with our major trading and security partners. We stand for mutually beneficial relations that can jointly help to develop our economies. There is a golden rule of diplomacy that in order to succeed it is necessary to be mindful not only of your own country’s interests but of your diplomatic partners’ interests as well.

Diplomatic Connections: Kazakhstan’s foreign policy is often described in official publications as “multi-vectored.” What is meant by that term?

Ambassador Umarov: The world today is not a simple one. Relations between states are made up of complex interdependencies. As my President Nursultan Nazarbayev defines it, multi-vectored diplomacy means a balanced, well-conceived, predictable and responsible foreign policy aimed at avoiding conflicts by building trust and mutual understanding in pursuit of peace.

In April 2016, during a visit to the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, D.C., President Nazarbayev unveiled his vision for a secure world in “Manifesto. The World. The 21st Century.” There he actually “declared war on war” appealing for a new mentality that would eliminate war as a way of life and underscoring the responsibility of leading world powers to achieve a nuclear-weapons-free-world in this century.

At the beginning of our independence, of course, people could not understand what this sort of policy would mean. How could a country like Kazakhstan develop strong relations with such different countries as the Russian Federation, China, the United States as well as organizations like the EU, NATO and the OSCE? But, at the end of the day, we can say this policy has proven itself right. The policy has made Kazakhstan more stable and more secure.

Read full article at Diplomatic Connections

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246 DAYS TILL BEGINNING OF THE ASTANA EXPO 2017 0

Posted on November 03, 2016 by KazCham

The U.S. expressed an interest in participating in EXPO-2017

Astana Expo 2017

The chairman of the board of NC “Astana EXPO-2017” Akhmetzhan Yessimov met with the Ambassador George A. Krol in Astana on October 7. They discussed the prospects of the U.S. participation in EXPO 2017 exhibition in Astana.

The 104th states and 17 international organisations have confirmed their participation in EXPO 2017. 99 commissioners have been appointed and 82 participation agreements have been signed.

The exhibition will run from June 10 through September 10 in Astana.

 

 

 

 

Sponsors invest €125M into EXPO 2017 in Astana

Kazinform

Sponsors have invested over €125 million into the organization and holding of the International specialized exhibition EXPO-2017 so far, CEO of JSC “National Company “Astana EXPO-2017” Akhmetzhan Yessimov said at the meeting with diplomatic corps in Astana.

“We pay utmost attention to the content of international pavilions. Only five pavilions are still empty and waiting for the countries to fill them in,” he noted.

Yessimov also declared that an American company Burson Marsteller will be responsible for a large-scale PR campaign.

Burson-Marsteller is a leading global public relations and communications firm founded in 1953. It is based in NYC, has offices in 98 countries worldwide.

 

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Condor Petroleum to begin production in Kazakhstan 0

Posted on October 25, 2016 by KazCham

Centil Law Firm BI@centil.law

Condor Petroleum Inc. has announced that the Shoba Production Contract has been signed with the government of Kazakhstan, providing for commercial production at the company’s Shoba oil field.

Production is expected to resume at Shoba in September at a rate of more than 500 bpd. The Taskuduk Production Contract is expected to be signed shortly, and will provide for further commercial production at the company’s wholly owned Taskuduk oil field in Kazakhstan.

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Kazakhstan Vows to Expand Afghan Aid Programs 0

Posted on October 17, 2016 by KazCham

Latin American Herald Tribune

Kazakhstan will extend until 2022 a program that provides college education to young Afghans and will continue to give technical and humanitarian aid to Afghanistan, Kazakh Foreign Minister Erlan Idrissov announced Wednesday in Brussels.

“Along with the rest of the international community, Kazakhstan is committed to sustainable and secure development in Afghanistan,” Idrissov told the Brussels Conference on Afghanistan, at which delegates from around the world gathered to offer their financial and political support to the war-torn Central Asian country.

Idrissov said he was “convinced that the revival of Afghanistan will have a great positive effect on the situation of our region.”

“The international community and the UN must continue providing Kabul with comprehensive support and assistance” throughout the rest of the so-called “decade of transformation” until 2024, he added.

Kazakhstan’s top diplomat recalled that his country provides technical assistance and humanitarian aid to Afghanistan in the framework of bilateral agreements and multilateral forums.

He stressed that the implementation of projects in Afghanistan is one of the priorities of KazAID – the Kazakh agency for international aid and development – that has worked with other countries in projects to strengthen economic independence and the rights of Afghan women.

“Every year, Afghanistan receives from Kazakhstan tons of humanitarian cargo, including food products, oil, lubricants, and equipment from Kazakhstan,” he said.

Kazakhstan has so far provided Afghanistan 20,000 tons of food products valued at some $20 million, he said.

Idrissov also noted that Kazakhstan has implemented a “joint action plan” for Afghanistan that has provided more than $2 million for the construction of a school, a hospital and roads, and $1.5 million to build four new bridges.

“Taking into account the importance of investing in human capital” and at the initiative of the President of Kazakhstan (Nursultan Nazarbayev), about 1,000 young Afghans began receiving an education at Kazakh universities in 2010 in areas such as medicine, agriculture and engineering,” he said.

With a total cost of $50 million, Idrissov said his country is now committed to expanding the educational program “until 2022.”

Moreover, in line with the goal of “building a State led by Afghans,” Idrissov said that Afghanistan “must continue reforms to transform the country into a stable and democratic nation.”

“Today and in the future the key to stabilizing Afghanistan is genuine regional cooperation,” he said, and vowed that Kazakhstan would “support initiatives focused on strengthening connectivity in the region.”

He recalled that the Kazakhstan-Turkmenistan-Iran railway was launched in 2014 and that the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan section is to be completed this year.

The implementation of this and other similar projects, “demonstrates the potential of Afghanistan as a gateway between Central and South Asia,” Idrissov said.

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Foreign Minister Attends EU-Related Gatherings in Brussels 0

Posted on October 16, 2016 by KazCham

Astana Calling

After spending the end of September in New York, Kazakh Foreign Minister Erlan Idrissov travelled to Brussels the first week in October to attend conferences with European Union (EU) officials.

Working with Slovakian Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajč2ák, Idrissov co-chaired the 15th meeting of the EU-Kazakhstan Cooperation Council. The Oct. 4 session was the first following the signing and provisional application of the Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (EPCA) between the entities.

“The EPCA has a very big chapter dedicated to trade and economic cooperation. Europe is our main trade partner and the source of foreign investments. Therefore, this sphere has been outlined in the new agreement. Overall, the EPCA covers 29 spheres of interaction,” said Idrissov.

As its name implies, the Сooperation Сouncil provided an opportunity to discuss financial collaborations and the role of the newly-formed cooperation committee trade configuration, which will address import/export and economic/investment issues. The talks specifically noted simplifying the visa regime for Kazakh citizens traveling to the EU, identifying Kazakhstan as a market economy and the future subcommittee on customs cooperation.

“The potential of trade, economic and investment cooperation between Kazakhstan and the EU is far from being disclosed. The main objective of the established structures should be further development of this potential and assistance for the implementation of the EPCA,” said Idrissov.

The meetings included representatives of the Kazakh ministries of National Economy, Investments and Development, Energy and Justice, the National Security Committee and National Centre for Human Rights and the discussions touched on each of their areas of concern – environmental and human rights protection, political cooperation, the rule of law and good governance, internal reforms and combating new threats.

Similar topics plus Afghanistan, Iran, Ukraine and regional cooperation in energy, environment, water resources, border security and combating drug trafficking were on the agenda when Idrissov and his counterparts Erlan Abdyldaev (Kyrgyzstan), Sirodjidin Aslov (Tajikistan), Rashid Meredov (Turkmenistan) and Abdulaziz Kamilov (Uzbekistan) met with EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and European Commission Vice President Federica Mogherini. The sides discussed relations within the EU Strategy for Central Asia, initiated in 2007 and renewed in 2015 through 2020.

“Our cooperation with our partners in Central Asia covers a lot of areas, with an eye also on the security challenges. We share a common neighbourhood, we share deep links and that is why we are engaged more than ever in expanding and enhancing our relations,” said Mogherini, according to eeas.europa.eu.

Idrissov later participated in the 18th Berlin Eurasian Club with the theme “EU – Central Asia Energy Dialogue.” The talks, involving German officials and representatives of leading European companies in conventional and renewable energy, provided a segue for the Foreign Minister to speak about EXPO 2017, the future energy-themed international exposition to be held in Astana. He also spoke about his nation’s socio-economic reforms and priorities with the EU.

The Kazakh delegation participated the following day in the Brussels Conference on Afghanistan. Arranged by the EU and Afghan government and attended by representatives of more than 70 countries and 30 international organisations, the conference reviewed joint international and Afghan efforts to increase sustained global support and funding based on a new national development framework. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah presented their vision of the future and track record on reform.

Idrissov noted that Kazakhstan continues to provide political and practical support to Kabul. KazAID, the nation’s official development assistance agency, focuses on Afghanistan, including a pilot project to improve the economic independence and rights of women launched in August with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). Kazakhstan also provides university grants to young Afghans within the educational programme initiated by President Nursultan Nazarbayev in 2009.

Following the meeting, Idrissov announced Kazakhstan will allocate $2 million to support the projects of Afghan security forces, adding the country intends to focus on solving the problems of Central Asia, including the stabilisation of Afghanistan, during its 2017-2018 membership on the UN Security Council.

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