Distinguished Prime-Minister of the Republic of Estonia, Dear participants of the business forum!
I am pleased to welcome Estonian guests and all participants of the Kazakhstan-Estonian business Forum in Astana. Welcome to Kazakhstan!
Dear friends! Just while ago we held a bilateral meeting with the Prime Minister of Estonia, discussed different areas of our cooperation, a very interesting open conversation took place. We identified the main directions, areas of common interest for cooperation and have already given the necessary instructions to the corresponding state bodies, so that the agreements would start to work without delay for the well-being and development of our countries.
The Republic of Estonia is one of the most important trade, economic and investment partner of Kazakhstan in Northern Europe. We are interested in further expansion of trade, economic and investment ties with your country.
I am convinced that we have huge potential for cooperation in transit and transport fields, environment and energy saving technologies as well as in IT technologies, in which Estonia is rightfully considered to be a “digital” leader.
Regarding the development of IT-technologies, we sent a large delegation to Estonia. My deputy Askar Zhumagaliyev visited Estonia. Just recently a big delegation from Kazakhstan — representatives of the ministries and regions, completed a training — a two-week course, they saw how the state services are provided, it was a great experience for them. I think we will continue developing in this area.
Today Kazakhstan is a state with predictable and favorable investment climate, implementing its trade policy in line with norms of international law. Tax burden elaborated preferences is optimized. Procedures for project planning in the field of public-private partnership are simplified. Migration and labor laws are improved, the procedure for attracting foreign labor force is simplified.
We have 11 Special Economic Zones and 22 Industrial Zones functioning in various sectoral directions and multiple preferences. Kazakhstan is a member of the WTO, associate member of the OECD investment committee, and joined the Declaration on international Investments.
We strive towards open dialogue with investors. For these purposes we established the Council of Foreign Investors under the President, the Council on improvement of investment climate under the Prime-Minister, and introduced the institutions of investment and business ombudsman. Since 2016 we have established the principle of “One-stop-shop” for all investors, and opened regional offices on providing services to investors in all regions of the countries.
The World Bank has recently published the results of the “Doing Business-2019” rating. Our country was rated 28th, improving its position by 8 stages in a year. This is our greatest accomplishment for the years of independence since the creation of this rakning. I know the Estonia occupies the 16th place. Our goal is to go further next year. In our conversation with the Mr. Prime Minister we mentioned that one of the restraining indicators for Kazakhstan in Doing Business is International Trade. Initially, International Trade was considered as factor of proximity from sea ports: obviously, we are the country with no access to the sea. But today the methodology has changed, the main focus is given to the speed with which goods pass borders. We have done a large amount of work here. The correpsonding legislation has been adopted. The Astana-1 Informational System has been launched at the border with China. Tax invoices are filled out in electronic format. Today 80 percent of cargoes passing the Kazakh-Chinese border go along the “green corridor.” I think that the reform that has been launched this year will be totally implemented, and the next year, possibly, will be counted as a large reform by the World Bank, this way we hope to appear in the ranking near Estonia. In general, in issues of digitalization we are big partners with Estonia. Today I told the Mr. Prime Minister that the E-Government platform, that has started in 2006-2008, was developed with the assistance of our Estonian friends, and this work today continues.
Today we are the first in Central Asia on investment climate, attracting the share of investments of more than 70% among Central Asian countries. In the past 10 years alone, the country has attracted about 250 billion dollars of foreign direct investment. We welcome investments in various sectors of our economy, especially in the development of the manufacturing industry and non-primary exports. We aim to introduce elements of the Fourth Industrial Revolution: 3D printing, online trading, mobile banking, digital services, automation, robotization, artificial intelligence and the exchange of big data.
Mr. Prime Minister today made a proposal to pay more attention and effort to our cooperation in agriculture. Now we have made corresponding instructions to our ministries, so that they would meet and discuss the details. It is possible that we sign the corresponding memorandum on cooperation for the development of our relations in agriculture. Further, the issues of digitalization and shipment of agricultural products to European countries can be considered.
We have adopted a special state program Digital Kazakhstan. Estonian experience in the development of an ecosystem of startups is widely known and projects within the framework of “Digital Kazakhstan” could be a promising field for cooperation.
Tomorrow we will launch the work of the International Center for IT start-ups called “Astana hub.” I am grateful to the Prime Minister of Estonia for his decision to take part in the presentation of this startup hub. Tomorrow we will visit this event together, where our President will participate. There you will be able to share your impressions of what you saw, heard, experienced and tell if we are moving in the right direction here.
Astana Hub has all the opportunities and privileges for business promotion. We have legally simplified the visa and labor regime for foreign participants in Astana Hub. Currently, work is underway to simplify taxation for residents of the technopark. We tell everyone who wants and ready to work at the territory of the startup hub, you can register. If you come here — we will provide you with a grant. If you accomodation issues — we will provide the necessary conditions.
In July of this year, we passed a law on venture financing. Now risky transactions are regulated by law, and the interests of both parties are protected. The first venture capitalists' association in Kazakhstan will soon be opened.
The global mission of Astana Hub is to become a regional innovation center for promoting technology initiatives.
You have probably heard a lot about the Astana International Financial Center that began to function in our capital n the territory of Expo. It officially started its work in January, the presentation was held in July, in the nearest future we are planning to hold our first deal in the framework of the second wave of privatization. Kazatomprom National Company is holding an IPO, which will also take place on the site of the financial center. In this regard, I invite Estonian companies, banks and financial institutions to work together in this direction.
In general, there are a lot of directions in which we could cooperate. Today there are companies here who work in your country, and those who have a great interest to work in our country. We created Kazakh Invest National Company which became a single window for all investors and has branch offices in all regions. We have also opened a special company Kazakh Export, which provides a broad range of support to promote, sell our goods, using the instruments of export and financial support of domestic production in foreign countries. Therefore, you can all services of these companies that were created to work with you.
Thank you for your attention! Today and tomorrow our colleagues are ready to work on all questions that are interesting for you and set further cooperation between you and our companies. Thank you!