15 November, 2018

Bakytzhan Sagintayev outlines priorities for building Kazakh-Slovak cooperation at business forum

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November 15, 2018, the Prime Minister of the Slovak Republic Peter Pellegrini arrived in Kazakhstan with the first official visit. The Head of State Nursultan Nazarbayev received Pellegrini in Akorda. A working meeting of the Prime Ministers of the two countries was held in Ukimet Uyi, after which Kazakh-Slovak business forum was held.  

At the meeting, Bakytzhan Sagintayev and Peter Pellegrini discussed a wide range of issues to further deepen and expand bilateral cooperation in the trade, economic, cultural and humanitarian spheres. The current and future areas of cooperation in trade, energy, industry, agriculture, engineering, education, financial sector, transit and transport, as well as the implementation of joint investment projects were considered. Special attention was paid to cooperation in the field of tourism. Slovakia plans to open two centers for simplified obtaining of Schengen visas for Kazakh citizens in Kazakhstan.

Bakytzhan Sagintayev noted that there is a steady increase in economic cooperation. At the same time, taking into account the existing potential, prospects for further increasing the volume of bilateral trade were indicated. For example, Kazakhstan is interested in the experience of Slovakia in the development of the automotive industry, alternative and renewable energy sources and the green economy, as well as in the modernization of the energy infrastructure and in the field of nuclear energy.

In turn, Pellegrini said that Kazakhstan is the country's key partner in the Central Asia. The Prime Minister stated that Slovak companies are actively involved in the implementation of large energy and infrastructure projects in Kazakhstan, and expressed gratitude for ensuring investment protection and exemption from double taxation. In his opinion, Kazakhstan responds to all modern requirements for the protection of investors. In addition, Pellegrini noted that Slovakia is interested in the experience of successful OSCE chairmanship of Kazakhstan, which organized the summit after an 11-year break. Recall that the Slovak Republic will chair the OSCE in 2019.

Diplomatic relations between Kazakhstan and Slovakia were established Jan. 1, 1993. In 2017, the trade turnover amounted to $53 million, which is 40% more than in 2016. In January-August 2018, the trade turnover amounted to $33.5 million. In general, from 2005 to the second quarter of 2018, the gross inflow of direct investments from Slovakia to Kazakhstan amounted to $20.6 million. According to the latest data, 62 legal entities, branches and representative offices with Slovak participation are registered in Kazakhstan.

The Kazakh-Slovak Business Forum gathered about 120 representatives of the business community of the two countries at one site. Led by Pellegrini, more than 70 representatives of government agencies and businesses in various sectors of the economy arrived: engineering, processing, energy, health, construction, logistics, chemical industry, aviation, agriculture, IT, etc.

The forum identified new opportunities and prospects for partnership between the business circles of the two countries. The forum participants noted the growing mutual interest of the business communities in working together, exchanged experiences, and also expressed wishes for increased investment and trade cooperation.

Addressing the participants of the event, Prime Minister Sagintayev noted that Slovakia is one of the key partners of Kazakhstan in Central Europe. Both states have much in common. This is an industrial-agrarian orientation of the economies, a developed human potential and a favorable geographical location.

The establishment of diplomatic relations between Kazakhstan and Slovakia is 25 years old. For a quarter of a century of friendship and partnership between countries, a trusting dialogue has been established, favorable conditions have been created for the development of trade, economic, cultural and humanitarian cooperation, and the legal base has been expanded. At the same time, trade and economic cooperation is consistently developing.

Sagintayev in his speech outlined a number of priority areas for increasing cooperation. Thus, the republic welcomes investments in various sectors of the economy, especially in the development of the manufacturing industry and non-primary exports. Kazakhstan also aims to introduce elements of the Fourth Industrial Revolution - 3D printing, online trade, mobile banking, digital services, automation, robotization, artificial intelligence and the exchange of big data. Kazakhstan also pays special attention to the agricultural sector, which should be one of the key drivers of the economy. The priorities of the development of the agro-industrial complex are increasing productivity through the introduction of new technologies and the processing of agricultural products, including for further export.

Representatives of the Slovak business were informed that Kazakhstan has great potential for profitable business. Kazakhstan is a member of the Eurasian Economic Union with a population of more than 180 million people with no customs borders, a member of the WTO, an associate member of the OECD Investment Committee, and the country has joined the Declaration on International Investments. On an ongoing basis, work is underway to improve the investment climate.

Ending his speech, Prime Minister Sagintayev invited the Slovak business to actively cooperate and implement new joint projects. Today, a large-scale privatization is underway in Kazakhstan. Shares of companies in the mining industry and metallurgy, the oil and gas industry, energy, transport and communications, infrastructure, and others are exhibited. In addition to direct privatization, cooperation is actively developing on the principles of public-private partnership. To date, 183 contracts have been concluded on the PPP mechanism, in which both foreign and local companies are involved.

Tax burden, preferences have been optimized. Procedures for planning projects in the field of public-private partnerships have been simplified. Improved migration and labor laws, simplified procedure for attracting foreign labor have been established. It is noted that Kazakhstan is committed to an open dialogue with investors. For this purpose, the Foreign Investors Council under the President, the Council for the Improvement of the Investment Climate under the Prime Minister, the institutes of investment and business ombudsman are introduced. Since 2016, the “Single Window” principle has been in place for all investors and regional offices have been opened to serve investors in all regions of the country.

In the Doing Business-2019 rating, Kazakhstan was ranked 28th: ​​the country ranks first in terms of the investment climate in Central Asia, and more than 70% of the investments in Central Asia fall on Kazakhstan. Over the past decade alone, the country has attracted about $250 billion in foreign direct investment. There are 11 special economic zones and 22 industrial zones with different sectoral orientations and different preferences.

A special state program "Digital Kazakhstan” has been adopted in the republic. There are innovation clusters in the country, such as Nazarbayev University and the Park of Innovative Technologies. Recently, a new International Technopark of IT startups Astana Hub has been opened. A multimodal Eurasian transport corridor have been opened. Five railway and six international road routes connecting Kazakhstan and other Asian countries with Europe through Russia, the Caspian and Black Seas, as well as Iran and Turkey are now passing through Kazakhstan.

From January 2018, the Astana International Financial Center started in the capital, which embodied the best models of financial centers in New York, Singapore, London and Dubai on the principles and norms of English law. The AIFC participants will have simplified tax, visa and labor regimes.

The country actively includes foreign banks. Such banks as Mitsubishi UFG (Japan), CITI Bank (USA), Deutsche Bank (Germany), Arab Bank (Jordan), ING Bank (Netherlands), VTB Bank (Russia) and many others work in Kazakhstan.

In turn, Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini spoke about the interest of Slovak entrepreneurs in investing in Kazakhstan, and also expressed confidence that initially very good economic relations between the countries will develop with even greater force. The Government of the Slovak Republic is ready to maximally develop economic relations between countries through the support of mutual and joint foreign investments and participation in other supporting events, since such forums greatly help to develop present and future economic relations.

As Pellegrini noted, Kazakhstan offers Slovak businessmen favorable economic conditions.

“There are industries in the energy sector in which we see the greatest potential, including the renewable sources, mechanical engineering, mining equipment, oil and gas, water purification technology, as well as food production and many others. Therefore, the firms that are present here represent precisely these areas,” said Pellegrini, assuring that Kazakhstan businessmen would be provided with the best conditions in the Slovak Republic.

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