At the meeting, issues of strengthening and expanding bilateral trade and economic cooperation between countries in the fields of energy, agriculture, logistics, transport and communications, defense industry, construction, pharmaceuticals, culture, education and science were discussed. The perspective areas for direct contacts between the business structures of Kazakhstan and Serbia, the realization of the export potential of the two countries, as well as the interaction of the financial systems of the two countries, including within the framework of the Astana International Financial Center, were considered.
In the second half of the day, the Kazakh-Serbian business forum was held in Astana with the participation of the Prime Minister Sagintayev and the President Serbia Vucic.
The event was attended by about 180 representatives of the business communities of Kazakhstan and Serbia in such industries as agriculture, chemistry, tourism, medicine, transport, telecommunications. Among Serbian enterprises, it is necessary to mention such large companies as Algotech (telecommunications), Chemical Agrosava (chemistry), Akomed (production of medical equipment), Adanko (textiles), MeatING Belgrade (agriculture), etc.
Addressing the forum participants, Sagintayev noted that possessing significant economic potential, Serbia is a reliable partner of Kazakhstan in Europe. In 2017 the trade between Kazakhstan and Serbia grew by 59.1% compared with the previous year ($41.9 million). At the same time, the potential of the two countries allows raising the level of bilateral business and trade relations to a higher level. This will be facilitated by the Intergovernmental Commission for Economic Cooperation.
The Government of Kazakhstan is systematically working to improve the investment climate and create conditions for attracting investment. Over the past four years, 52 reforms have been carried out in the country in the tax and customs spheres, in providing state support to entrepreneurship. Optimized tax burden, preferences are being worked out. Simplified procedures for planning projects in the field of public-private partnerships, a single database of successfully implemented PPP projects is available for all interested investors. Migration and labor laws were improved, simplified procedure for attracting foreign labor was introduced.
For investors, services are provided on the principle of "Single Window," regional service offices are opened in all regions of the country. The Foreign Investors Council under the President, the Council for the Improvement of the Investment Climate under the Prime Minister provide an open dialogue, investment and business ombudsman institutions have been introduced. Thanks to the measures taken, Kazakhstan ranks 36th in the World Bank's “Ease of Doing Business” rating, first place in the investment climate in Central Asia, and more than 70% of investments in Central Asian countries fall on Kazakhstan. Over the past 10 years, the country has attracted about $250 billion of foreign direct investment in various sectors of Kazakhstan's economy.
The forum participants were also presented with prospects for investing in such sectors of the Kazakh economy as transport and logistics, manufacturing, agriculture, digitalization and innovative development, as well as participation in the privatization program.
The President of Serbia Aleksandar Vucic in his speech stressed that Kazakhstan is an exceptionally friendly country for the Republic of Serbia. Several promising areas for bilateral cooperation were noted, which include mechanical engineering, in particular, automotive, agricultural, as well as the military-technical sphere. Kazakhstan and Serbia can also cooperate in the field of modern technologies. A special area is investment and the creation of joint ventures.
In addition, Vucic noted the intention of Serbia to continue to invest in Kazakhstan. He also invited all Kazakhstani investors to his country. In return, the Serbian side is ready to provide the best conditions for investors - these are state subsidies, subsidies for the number of jobs created and other benefits.
The forum was also addressed by Chairman of the Foreign Trade Chamber of Kazakhstan A. Yerenov, Director of the Department of International Economic Relations of the Serbian Chamber of Commerce and Industry J. Jovanovic, Deputy Chairman of Kazakh Invest National Company M. Bіrіmzhan, Chairman of Export Insurance Company KazakhExport JSC R. Iskakov, Co-Chairman of the Kazakh-Serbian Business Council, a member of the Board of Trustees of the Silk Road Institute, a member of the presidium of the Union of Transport Workers of Kazakhstan Kazlogistics E. Iskaliyev and others.
A number of agreements was concluded at the forum. The Agreement between the Governments of Kazakhstan and Serbia on cooperation in the fight against crime, the Memorandum of Understanding and exchange of experience in the field of construction between Ministry for Investments and Development of Kazakhstan and Ministry of Construction, Transport and Infrastructure of Serbia, the Memorandum of Understanding in air communication between the Ministry for Investments Development of Kazakhstan and the Ministry of Construction, Transport and Infrastructure of the Republic of Serbia, the Memorandum of Understanding on Youth Policy between the Ministry of Social Development of Kazakhstan and the Ministry of Youth and Sports of Serbia.