25 January, 2019

Discussion of the international trade at the World Economic Forum

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On January 22, 2019 within the framework of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos (Switzerland), the Permanent Representative of Kazakhstan to the UN and other international organizations in Geneva, Ambassador Zhanar Aitzhanova took part in the panel session of the Caspian Week Conference on the theme “Globalization, International Trade and Barriers".

The event was also attended by experts in the field of international trade from the USA, China and Switzerland, representatives of the diplomatic corps and the business environment. Growing tensions in international trade, the role of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in modern global trade, preferential trade agreements and the growing role of the digital economy were the main issues on the agenda.

Ambassador Aitzhanova informed the session participants that a key priority for the Government of Kazakhstan is to ensure sustainable economic growth by diversifying the national economy and reducing its dependence on commodities exports, and by creating a favourable climate for investment in the services and manufacturing sector. In order to achieve these goals Kazakhstan has adopted a strong package of commitments to liberalize the services market during the negotiation process on accession to the WTO. In particular, the restriction on the participation of foreign capital in telecommunications companies was lifted, gradual opening of direct branches of foreign banks and insurance companies in Kazakhstan was permitted, and a favourable climate was provided for foreign investments in all key service sectors, including transport, construction, trade and energy.

Since Kazakhstan's accession to the WTO, an increase in investment in the manufacturing industry and services sector has been observed. From 2016-2017, the total amount of direct foreign investment in Kazakhstan's economy amounted to almost 42 billion US dollars, of which investments into the manufacturing industry comprised 9.3 billion US dollars and 14 billion US dollars was attracted to the services sector.

Overall, 50% of all foreign investments were attracted to non-commodities (value-added sectors) sectors and the share of foreign investment in the services sector increased by more than 30%.

The Permanent Representative of Kazakhstan expressed a concern over growing tensions in the multilateral trade, but at the same time she noted that the US trade measures applied to imports of steel and aluminium do not have a direct negative impact on Kazakhstan's exporters. The Ambassador also stressed that in the long term, the slowdown in economic growth of key trade partners of Kazakhstan due to trade wars could adversely affect the economy of the country.

In relation to the issue of digital economy, all participants of the session expressed the urgent need to develop a coordinated regulation of this area at the international level. In this regard, support was expressed to the initiative of some WTO Members to develop new multilateral or plurilateral rules governing e-commerce.

The Caspian Week Conference is a regular event at the WEF, which provides a platform for world leaders, international expert and analysts to discuss topical issues of the global economy with a focus on the Caspian region.

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