Kazakhstan Chamber of Commerce in the USA

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Nazarbayev Suggests Unified Effort in Global Development at G20 Summit 0

Posted on September 12, 2016 by KazCham

Astana Times

It has been eight years since the 2008 global financial crisis made the G20 a “summit-level” primary platform for global economic governance. The most urgent task facing the current G20 Summit is to promote the steady recovery and growth of the world economy and guard against new financial risks.

As a major country, China needs to promote the reform and reshaping of the international economic system and the world order, thus joining hands with other countries to shape the prospects for the international economy with stable, strong and sustainable development.

In speaking at the summit, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev noted the G20 meeting is being held in a complicated time.

“The rates of global economic growth, trade and capital flows are decreasing. It affects the welfare of millions of people. The formation of new transcontinental trade and investment associations may lead to a decrease of the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) role and fragmentation of the world economy. These processes may become a start for a new stage of a war in the international markets,” he said.

Nazarbayev stressed the way of global development depends largely on the united actions of the entire world community. In his view, the leading role in international economy and finance regulation should be played by a single global organisation.

“Such kind of structure can be created through the transformation of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) into the Global Development Council, which should serve as a global economic regulator,” he said. The head of state presented the proposal at the 70th jubilee session of the UN General Assembly in New York last September.

Nazarbayev noted the current coordination of monetary and fiscal policies, as well as structural reforms are important. It is not sufficient, however, to ensure stability in the long term. He suggested developing more substantive proposals to stabilise exchange rates around the world, including the developing countries.

The President suggested a new industrial revolution, digital economy and innovation.

“I fully support this approach. Implementation of this task is only possible on the principles of inclusiveness. We need to determine the midpoint of the dialogue between the G20 and the developing countries. As an alternative, I suggest considering the Kazakh communication platform G-Global, which is open to all participants. This platform brings together more than 30,000 experts from 140 countries,” he said.

Nazarbayev added Kazakhstan actively supports implementing the UN’s sustainable development goals, the Paris agreements and the principles of green economy. In this regard, he invited the participants to take part in the upcoming international exhibition EXPO 2017 in Astana, which will be held under the slogan Future Energy.

The President concluded by noting Kazakhstan’s vision of the world’s most pressing issues was presented in the Manifesto “The World. The 21st Century.” He expressed hope for support in implementing its ideas and formation of a world free from nuclear weapons.

Nazarbayev held a number of bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the summit, including with United States President Barack Obama, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and British Prime Minister Theresa May.

Nazarbayev also met with Chinese business magnate and philanthropist Jack Ma, the founder and executive chairman of Alibaba Group, a family of successful Internet-based businesses. They discussed cooperation issues with the company and the prospects of expanding its activities in Kazakhstan, including realisation of joint projects in the field of electronic commerce and payment systems integration.

Kazakhstan, Afghanistan to intensify economic co-op 0

Posted on November 27, 2015 by KazCham

Trend News

Kazakhstan and Afghanistan have discussed the possibilities of intensifying the trade and economic cooperation, Kazakh presidency said.

Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev and his Afghan counterpart Mohammad Ashraf Ghani touched upon the relevant issues on the international agenda, including the regional security.

Nazarbayev said that his country has always supported Afghanistan in its hard times.

He noted that $20 million worth food products have been delivered to this country from Kazakhstan since 2002 and $50 million was allocated for study of Afghan students in Kazakhstan.

Kazakhstan will continue to render assistance for ensuring Afghanistan’s development, Nazarbayev added.

Kazakh president pointed out that Afghanistan’s subsoil is rich with mineral resources, while Kazakhstan has specialists who can be involved in geological exploration work.

During the meeting, the two presidents also discussed combating terrorism.

Ghani for his part said that Afghanistan remains committed to its policy of cooperation with Kazakhstan and Central Asian countries in general.

During the official visit of Afghanistan’s president to Kazakhstan, the sides signed an intergovernmental agreement on cooperation in civil defense, emergency management and an intergovernmental agreement on cooperation in the sphere of culture.

The trade turnover between Kazakhstan and Afghanistan stood at $336.7 million in 2014, compared to $251.4 million in 2013.

Putin’s Visit Reconfirms Kazakh-Russian Strategic Partnership 0

Posted on October 28, 2015 by KazCham

Astana Times

Russian President Vladimir Putin paid a visit to Kazakhstan on October 15 at the invitation of President Nursultan Nazarbayev. The two leaders met in eye-to-eye and extended-format sessions. Nazarbayev noted that he and Putin regularly “coordinate positions” and try to quickly find solutions to issues of bilateral relations in various areas of cooperation.

Putin said there is no need to categories Russian-Kazakh relations.

“It is not just a trustworthy partnership, but it is also a friendly relationship in every sense of the word. Kazakhstan is one of our largest trading partners. Today, almost 6,000 Russian companies are working in Kazakhstan. A large amount of investment has been accumulated in dollar equivalents. Your brainchild, the Eurasian Economic Union, is actively developing and creating conditions for the effective development of our economies. We see that many of our partners are willing to cooperate with the EAEU in different formats,” he emphasized.

A number of agreements were signed during the extended meeting. The documents included the amendments to a 1998 agreement between Kazakhstan and Russia on the delimitation of the northern part of the Caspian Sea that would help the two governments exercise sovereign rights for subsoil use and proceed with joint exploitation of the Tsentralnoye and Hvalynskoye oil deposits.

The presidents exchanged views on cooperation between Moscow and Astana in the framework of the EAEU, as well as touched upon the situation in Syria and Ukraine. Particular attention was paid to building up trade and economic cooperation.

The meeting also provided an opportunity for Kazakhstan and Russia to voice their opinions on the most important problems of the international agenda.

“We discussed the implementation of the Minsk agreements and the issues of building up interaction within the framework of global and regional organizations, including [responsibility for providing] stability and security in the Central Asian region. For this matter, the situation in Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq is important. Together, we discussed the current situation in the region. Today, we hear active speculation around the confrontation between the Shia and Sunnis; however, these talks have nothing to do with reality. The current situation in Syria is a common threat for all of us, especially for Central Asia. In this regard, we support the idea of the forum on Islam against terrorism,” said the Kazakh President.

The head of state expressed confidence that the arrangements reached will serve to further strengthen cooperation between the two countries on a range of interaction in the spirit of friendship and mutually beneficial partnership. In turn, the Russian President described negotiations as very “constructive” and “fruitful.”

“Traditionally, the negotiations went smoothly and in a friendly atmosphere. We exchanged views in all areas of bilateral relations, focusing on such areas as trade, investment, energy, transport, space and peaceful use of nuclear energy,” he said.

The Russian President touched upon key areas of cooperation between the two countries and specific projects implemented together. The Russian-Kazakh intergovernmental commission is called upon to give additional impetus to the expansion of cooperation in the trade and economic sphere, which will take place before the end of this year, he said.

“During the talks, we discussed the keys to regional and world problems. We have informed [President] Nazarbayev on the main outcomes of the meeting of the Normandy Four in Paris, as well as on the situation in Syria,” he said.

The Russian President also expressed support for his Kazakh counterpart’s initiative to join efforts by all countries, especially those where the population confesses Islam, in the fight against terrorism.

Kazakhstan named important US partner 0

Posted on October 21, 2015 by KazCham

Vestnik Kavkaza

President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev said at the 70th session of the UN General Assembly in New York that his country supports the measures being taken by the international community – the UN, the League of Arab States, the United States and Russia, as well as the actions of the Syrian authorities and the opposition. Then he had a meeting with US President Barack Obama, after which White House spokesman Josh Ernest called Kazakhstan “a particularly important partner”.

Nursultan Nazarbayev expressed satisfaction with the fact that “the Russian President and the President of the United States have met to discuss sensitive issues.”

In addition to discussing the ‘Russian theme’, Nazarbayev and Obama “stressed the importance of the Kazakh-US partnership to ensure development, stability and security in the region.” There are more than 300 US-Kazakh joint ventures in Kazakhstan. Astana is interested in further development of cooperation and the active participation of US companies in the program of industrial-innovative development. The two leaders also “exchanged views on topical issues of the international agenda.”

The increased interest of Washington in Astana is no coincidence. As the Director of the Analytical Center of the Institute of International Studies Andrey Kazantsev told Vestnik Kavkaza, Kazakhstan is important for the United States for three reasons. One reason is related to the relations with Russia, the second with the US policy towards Afghanistan, the third with China. “Kazakhstan is presenting itself quite successfully and it is perceived by the West as one of the mediators in relations with Moscow. And it needs intermediaries, since mutual trust between the Russian and Western political elites has been lost. And there are fewer and fewer such intermediaries now. According to him, Nazarbayev can find common ground with Putin, he is the initiator of Eurasian integration. On the other hand, as a part of its multi-vector policy, Kazakhstan has good relations with the West too, Astana pays a great attention to the construction of the liberal economic rules in the country, successfully attracting Western investment.

According to the expert, “the West perceives Nazarbayev’s Kazakhstan as ‘an island of stability and predictability’ in Central Asia”.

President Nazarbayev Unveils 100 Concrete Steps at Astana Economic Forum 0

Posted on May 30, 2015 by KazCham

Astana Times

ASTANA – Kazakhstan is embarking on some of the most ambitious reforms in its independent history as President Nursultan Nazarbayev moves to implement his election campaign platform of five institutional reforms.

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On May 20, three weeks after Nazarbayev announced in his inaugural speech that a “Plan of the Nation” would be developed to radically change the country, two leading Kazakh daily newspapers published the government’s concrete approaches to implementing those reforms.

The approaches, outlined in the “100 Concrete Steps to Implement Five Institutional Reforms” document, have been published to not only give the country a clear sense of the direction in which the newly reelected leader wants to take it, but also to be used as a checklist by the international community.

“We have now published the 100 Steps for the world to see,” Nazarbayev said in his remarks at the plenary session of the Astana Economic Forum on May 22. “Now the world will be able to track our progress or lack thereof on all of them.”

“One hundred concrete steps are a response to global and local challenges and, at the same time, it is a plan for the nation to join the top 30 most-developed countries in the new historical conditions. One hundred concrete steps will give Kazakhstan a margin of safety that will help the country through a difficult period, implement the Kazakhstan 2050 Strategy and strengthen Kazakh statehood. The plan lays out radical changes in society and the state, the main goal of which is treatment of systemic diseases, not just smoothing their exterior symptoms,” outlines the preamble to the document.

The concrete steps, which are shorter and more precise measures, are grouped under the following five institutional reforms: formation of a professional state apparatus; the rule of law; industrialisation and economic growth; identity and unity; formation of accountable government.

According to the document, the first reform suggests formation of a modern, professional and independent public service that ensures high-quality implementation of economic programmes and delivery of public services.

A few steps under this reform are concentrated on new ways to recruit talented candidates for public office, including from the private sector. One of them actually even allows for appointing foreign citizens to positions within the government, a practice better known in the post-Soviet realm in countries such as Georgia and Ukraine. Two more measures stipulate elaboration of a new code on civil service and a re-examination of public servants aimed at cleansing the corps of the less competent. The timeline and terms of such a massive effort are yet to be defined.

The announced steps also foresee the introduction of a revamped system of remuneration for civil servants that will rely on performance- and region-based criteria. The latter could be relevant for those working in the oil-producing regions of Atyrau and Mangystau, as well as in Almaty and Astana where life is notably costlier than, for instance, in Shymkent or Petropavlovsk.

The second reform involves the transition from the five-level justice system (first, appeal, cassation, supervising and re-supervising) to a three-level (first, appeal and cassation) system. The aim is to strengthen foreign and domestic investors’ trust in Kazakhstan’s court system. The measures include toughening qualification criteria for the recruitment of judges by introducing a new requirement for a candidate to serve at least five years within the court system and a one-year trial period for newly-appointed judges, improving the public image of police in order to increase the level of citizens’ trust and cut corruption. In general, implementing this reform seeks to ensure property rights by improving conditions for entrepreneurial activity and protecting contractual obligations.

One of the steps under this reform requires expansion of court proceedings that must be decided by a jury, while introducing into laws a category of criminal cases where consideration by jury will be mandatory.

Another “step” stipulates the creation of a municipal or “local” police force, which will work under the control and in close cooperation with local executive authorities and local communities. A widespread practice in the world, it has a brief history in Kazakhstan. In 1992, an institution of local police was introduced but was scrapped after less than a year in favour of a more centralised model.

Within the third reform, the government is eager to attract strategic investors to the country’s agricultural sector that is lagging behind the industrial and services branches of economy. Beyond that, one of the measures stipulates that the tax and customs systems will be integrated. This will open doors to an importer to transport commodities into Kazakhstan before selling them.

The third reform also talks about the extension of the current practice of civil servants making declarations of incomes to declaring expenses as well, starting from January 2017. The following stage could be extended to all citizens, however, no timetable for such an expansion has been defined.

One of the measures talks about strengthening the institution of a “business ombudsman,” a kind of prosecutor on behalf of entrepreneurs. Implementation of those tasks will boost economic growth and diversify industry.

A few steps concentrate on establishing a “multi-modal Eurasian transcontinental transport corridor” that would facilitate quicker delivery of goods between Asia and Europe via Kazakhstan. Among similar measures, construction of a new airport to service the growing needs of Almaty is also mentioned.

Two more steps envisage establishing the Astana International Financial Centre (AIFC) with a status significantly different enough that it may require introducing amendments into the nation’s Constitution. Those maybe justified by a need to introduce a separate judicial system in the AIFC based largely on the English law and the use of English as “an official language” of the centre, along with Kazakh and Russian. The design of the centre, similar to one used in Dubai, would turn Astana into a major “financial hub for the [Commonwealth of Independent States] CIS countries and West Asia.” The centre would focus particularly on “servicing capital markets and Islamic finances” with a goal to becoming one of the 20 leading financial centres of the world.

AIFC will use the facilities constructed for EXPO 2017 following the exhibition, Nazarbayev announced at the Astana Economic Forum.

On a social side, one of the steps requires the “introduction of mandatory medical insurance” with a “solidary responsibility of state, employers and employees.” Details of this step have not been announced.

The main aspect of the fourth reform concerning issues of “Identity and Unity,” is shaping a “Nation of Common Future” by nurturing a viable middle class as the backbone of a successful nation, which is achieved by sustaining the genuine rule of law and modern and valid political, economic and civil institutions in the society. According to the publication, the ideology of Mangilik El (The Eternal Nation) should serve as a system of common civic values.

Measures to boost domestic tourism and establish encyclopaedia-type information resources and databases systematising presentation of Kazakhstan’s natural and human resources are prominent in the description of the steps under this reform.

The fifth reform involves “creation of an accountable government.” From now on, the heads of public bodies will report annually to the general public on the achievements of their agencies. This will include a concept of “open government” (elaboration of a new law on unhindered access to public information with an exclusion for classified materials), budget and consolidated financial statements, the results of an external financial audit, evaluation of the effectiveness of public policy, public assessment of the results of the quality of public services, online statistical reports from the state agencies and reports on the execution of the national and local budgets.

Further development of an e-government concept, that has seen a highly successful implementation in Kazakhstan, is included in the proposal as reflected in the last of the 100 steps, on establishing a State Corporation of Government for Citizens that is to become a single provider of public services. The arrangement would be modelled on Canada Service and Austrialia’s Centre link.

In order to implement all of the above-mentioned reforms, the National Modernisation Commission under the President has been created. The head of the commission is Prime Minister Karim Massimov. It consists of five working groups, members of which include local and foreign experts. The commission will have its own International Advisory Council, with the inclusion of international experts responsible not only for providing recommendations but also “performing an independent systematised monitoring of results in implementation of the reforms.”

International participants in the May 21-22 Astana Economic Forum have commented on the newly published 100 steps document.

According to the Kazinform news agency, Chairman of Russia’s Sberbank German Gref said he experienced something of a “culture shock” after reading it and that Russia should take on board Kazakhstan’s Plan of the Nation and create a mutual plan with Astana called “100 steps together.”

The head of Sberbank called the document “comprehensive and logically well developed.”

“I can quite professionally assess this document. For many years, I was engaged in this topic. I can say that this document is one of the best I have ever seen. If at least 50 out of 100 steps are completed, and I hope that most of them are implemented, it is obvious that Kazakhstan will turn into a fundamentally different country,” Gref said.

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.

EEU and multi-vector policy were key in 2014, says Foreign Minister 0

Posted on January 17, 2015 by KazCham

The Astana Times

At a press conference, Minister of Foreign Affairs Erlan Idrissov summarized the country’s foreign policy achievements for 2014 while stressing the importance of a multi-vector foreign policy.

Idrissov noted that President Nazarbayev made 8 foreign visits and received 16 heads of state, while Kazakhstan’s senior most officials  participated in over 59 events at the highest level and 70 bilateral visits.

The country adopted a new Concept of Foreign Policy until 2020 as per President Nazarbayev’s Jan. 29 decree, wherein the EEU was given top priority.

Kazakhstan also successfully negotiated an expanded Partnership and Cooperation Agreement with the EU, and furthered in its path to join the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

Ukraine featured strongly as a major political concern in Kazakhstan, and Astana continually expressed its support for a peaceful de-escalation of the armed conflict and mutual cooperation between countries as per internationally recognized agreements.

Kazakhstan has also been making a strong case for its candidacy as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council in 2017-2018, by focusing on basic necessities like energy, food, water security, as well as non-proliferation.

President Nazarbayev focused intensely on regional security in 2014. At the fourth summit of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA) on May 21 in Shanghai, President Nazarbayev introduced an initiative to transform CICA into an Organisation for Security and Development in Asia. He also led Kazakhstan’s joining of ASEM at the 10th ASEM (Asia-Europe Meeting) summit in Milan.

Nazarbayev held talks with President Barack Obama during the Nuclear Security Summit and emphasized strong relations with the U.S. Kazakhstan maintained strong relations with Russia, with Nazarbayev and Putin holding 10 meetings in 2014. Nazarbayev also made a state visit to China in May, where he signed 16 agreements for furthering bilateral cooperation.

Kazakhstan worked towards harmony in Central Asia by extending humanitarian and economic aid to Afghanistan for rebuilding efforts.

Idrissov also noted that “special attention was paid to attracting further foreign direct investment, promoting Kazakhstan’s export to foreign markets, developing transit-transport cooperation and elaborating on projects in the energy sector, as well as implementing preparations for EXPO 2017.”

A visa-free regime with 10 countries, the creation of Kazakhstan’s own regional aid agency KazAID, and the new Nurly Zhol economic policy were all remarkable achievements of 2014 as well, according to Idrissov.

 

 

Nazarbayev Offers to Mediate in Ukraine, Stresses Kazakhstan’s Economic Resilience 0

Posted on December 29, 2014 by KazCham

President Nursultan Nazarbayev held his annual end-of-year news briefing covering a broad range of areas from the situation in Ukraine to Kazakhstan’s economic stimulus package, terrorism threats, prospects of integration in Eurasia and Almaty’s bid to host the Winter Olympics in 2022.

During an hour-and-a-half question-and-answer session shown on national television channels on Dec. 21, Nazarbayev said the reasons for the continuing confrontation in Ukraine. Nazarbayev emphasised Ukraine’s historical closeness to Kazakhstan, as well as the presence of a large Ukrainian minority in Kazakhstan. “The fratricidal war has brought true devastation to eastern Ukraine, and it is a common task to stop the war there, strengthen Ukraine’s independence and secure territorial integrity of Ukraine,” the Kazakh leader said. “Both Ukraine and Russia are equally close to Kazakhstan and that is why I am ready to continue talking to leaders in both Kiev and Moscow, as well as in European capitals, in a bid to promote progress in negotiations over lasting peace in eastern Ukraine.”

“There is a need to agree on those issues where aspirations of Ukraine, Russia and Europe coincide: ending the way, freeing prisoners, assisting in restoration in eastern Ukraine, determining the status of languages. These are the issues that need to be brought up to the level of the presidents and need to be agreed upon, together with the Europeans.”

Economy Resilient, While Government Has Resources to Withstand Pressure

Speaking of the impact of reciprocal sanctions between the West and Russia, Nazarbayev said they had no direct impact on Kazakhstan but there was nothing good for his country in this situation either. “The government will continue elaborating well thought through solutions that would secure stability of Kazakhstan’s economy,” he said. Nazarbayev stressed that the trouble with the Russian rouble has confirmed the timeliness of his snap state-of-the-nation address on Nov. 11. He also emphasised the importance of proposed major investments in infrastructure development within the Nurly Zhol new economic policy that is “going to serve a generation of your children.”

“Now is the time to invest the funds we had saved in the development of transport links connecting the regions of Kazakhstan,” he noted adding that he had been thinking about unveiling the Nurly Zhol strategy over a long time.

Nazarbayev assured the population that all welfare payments would be kept at their current level. He explained that the government had elaborated several scenarios for the development of the nation’s financial and economic system based on several price estimates for oil, including that envisaging $40 for a barrel of oil, and that necessary reserves were at government’s disposal.

Speaking about the industrialisation programme implemented in Kazakhstan since 2010, Nazarbayev stressed that it was aimed at increasing domestic production of goods and limiting the influence of currency fluctuations on the incomes of the population through cutting dependence on import of commodities.

Among the real successes of industrialisation programme, Nazarbayev named launching the assembly lines for locomotives and railway carriages, automobiles, production of solar panels and construction material.

“During the talks with the People’s Republic of China, we have agreed to build 15-20 new processing plants,” he added, explaining that these would be plants in industries such as petro chemistry, polymer production, metal processing and others.

“The growth of population in Kazakhstan over the past ten years has been a clear sign of economic stability in Kazakhstan. This year, around 265,000 new school children went to school for the first time, which is equal to the population of a city as big as Uralsk. If the population in Kazakhstan continues to grow at such a pace, this will be a source of great joy,” the head of state said.

Nazarbayev stressed the growing need for qualified blue collar personnel in line with the country’s industrialisation policies and raising the prestige of working professions.

Multi-Vector Foreign Policy to Remain in Place

Answering a question on the future of Kazakhstan’s long-standing multi-vector policy in light of the growing confrontations in the world these days, Nazarbayev said it was natural for a state in the modern world to maintain friendly relations with as many partners as possible.

“Our multi-vector policy has led to us having a very friendly environment. We have no insolvable conflicts with any state. All our borders have been delimited and demarcated, and [are now] enshrined in international law. … Kazakhstan is a member of the CSTO [Collective Security Treaty Organisation] and EEU [Eurasian Economic Union] but this does not prevent Kazakhstan from cooperating with third parties,” he stressed.

Speaking of the timeliness of the Eurasian Economic Union, which is set to enter into effect on Jan. 1, 2015, Nazarbayev said it was in no way a recreation of the Soviet Union. “This year we have created the EEU, completed negotiations on enhanced cooperation agreement with the EU and on our accession to the World Trade Organisation (WTO). People who say that the EEU is an attempt to recreate the Soviet Union are mistaken. It is utter nonsense,” Nazarbayev said, stressing the purely economical nature of integration processes within the EEU.

When asked about international terrorists using Islam as a cover, Nazarbayev said groups such as ISIS posed common threat to the entire world community and Kazakhstan should support international efforts in tackling that problem. To do so, the state in Kazakhstan should increase the population’s competence in Islam which would help deflect attempts to abuse people’s religious sentiments and warn them against threats posed by this evil.

Almaty’s Winter Olympics Bid, if Successful, May Be Shared with Astana

The probability of Almaty winning the bid to host 2022 Winter Olympic Games has aroused many questions among Kazakhstan’s public, including one on the relevance of such a costly event. During the briefing, Nazarbayev said he had been thinking long and hard about that bid.

“Almaty has lots of necessary sports facilities already in place, like a skating rink, alpine skiing facilities, a world-class ski jumping hill and a hockey stadium. If selected [to host the Games], Kazakhstan would only need to build an Olympic village and upgrade the current road infrastructure. But all of that will serve residents of Almaty afterwards as dormitories and scientific laboratories. The only major construction expense would involve construction of a bobsleigh track. If the International Olympic Committee allows, Astana would also be ready to host part of the events. We are not going to spend 50 or 40 or 30 billion dollars. There will be expenses but we can manage them,” Nazarbayev explained.

Pondering on the outcomes of the year, the President noted is was full of serious events and major meetings. Notably, in 2014 he has met more than 40 foreign leaders, while seven full days were spent in the air.

Concluding his annual meeting with TV reporters, Nazarbayev answered a couple of personal questions. He said he took to drawing this year, comparing his new hobby with meditation and noting it helps to put his thoughts in order.

Kazakhstan working for transcontinental connectivity 0

Posted on November 14, 2014 by KazCham

The Astana Times

An editorial in The Astana Times praised Kazakhstan’s  efforts to promote “transcontinental connectivity” and its achievements in following a “multi-vector foreign policy.”

Kazakhstan enjoys treaties, strategic partnerships and cooperation with many international bodies like the UN, the Asian Development Bank, the World Bank, and others. It’s recent acceptance into the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) was another huge step in this direction.

Kazakhstan further aims to build connections with China, Russia, Europe and Asia, through economic and infrastructural projects.

President Nazarbayev has in the past urged the international community to take “real action in matters of elimination of protectionist barriers, opening markets and increasing bilateral trade.” He has spoken against international sanctions and for the need to reform the global financial architecture.

One of Kazakhstan’s top priorities is revitalizing the Silk Road, connecting Europe and Asia through projects like the Western China-Western Europe highway and through diversifying energy.

Kazakhstan was the only Central Asian country to be invited to the ASEM summit, where more than 50 other countries interacted. President Nazarbayev spoke with many leaders from countries like Britain, Japan, Germany, China, South Korea, Hungary, Italy and the Netherlands to expand mutual cooperation. These meeting, Nazarbayev has said, helped raise Kazakhstan’s profile at the world stage and attract investments for Kazakhstan’s economic development.

Kazakhstan is also flexible in its foreign policy and continues to strengthen relations with Russia, while developing strong ties with China in key areas of trade and economic development.

Restructuring of Kazakhstan Government 0

Posted on August 19, 2014 by KazCham

PwC, Tax and Legal Alert / Issue No. 7 / July 2014

A Presidential decree has reorganized various Ministries, in particular the Ministry of Finance (transferring functions and powers in budget planning from the Ministry of Economy and Budget Planning). Certain functions were also transferred to the Ministries of Internal Affairs and Agriculture.

The decree created other ministries including:

  • National Economy that assumes some functions and powers of the:
  • Ministry of Economy and Budget Planning;
  • Ministry of Regional Development;
  • Ministry of Emergency Situations;
  • Agency of Statistics;
  • Agency for Regulation of the Natural Monopolies;
  • Agency for Competition Protection (Antimonopoly agency);
  • Agency for Consumer Rights Protection.
  • Energy that assumes some functions and powers of the:
  • Ministry of Oil and Gas;
  • Ministry of Industry and New Technologies;
  • Ministry of Environment and Water Resources.
  • Culture and Sport;
  • Investment and Development;
  • Health and Social Development that assumes some functions and powers of the:
  • Ministry of Public Health;
  • Ministry of Labor and Social Protection.

Various ministries and agencies were abolished. In terms of the decree the Prime Minister has two deputies. The amendments to the President’s decree “On the structure of the Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan” establish the following structure:

  • Chancellery of the Prime-Minister of the Republic of Kazakhstan;
  • Ministry of Internal Affairs;
  • Ministry of Foreign Affairs;
  • Ministry of Culture and Sport;
  • Ministry of National Economy;
  • Ministry of Defence;
  • Ministry of Investment and Development;
  • Ministry of Education and Science;
  • Ministry of Health and Social Development;
  • Ministry of Agriculture;
  • Ministry of Finance;
  • Ministry of Energy;
  • Ministry of Justice.

The changes took effect on 6 August 2014.

New appointments

A Presidential decree made the following appointments:

  • Aset Issekeshev – Investment and Development Minister;
  • Bakhyt Sultanov – Finance Minister;
  • Yerbolat Dossaev – Minister of National Economy;
  • Vladimir Shkolnik – Minister of Energy;
  • Tamara Duysenova – Minister of Health and Social Development;
  • Arystanbek Muhamediuly – Minister of Culture and Sport.
  • Kairat Kozhamzharov – Chairman of the Agency for Civil Service Affairs and

The appointments took effect on 6 August 2014.



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