International integration

Main priorities of Kazakhstan’s “economic” diplomacy in 2018

Summing up the results of 2018, we would like to note that 2018 was productive in terms of activity on the international economic track. Assistance in attracting foreign investment, innovative technologies, promotion of domestic products for export were one of the main priorities of Kazakhstan’s “economic” diplomacy. Read more about these priorities in the review material of the Information Agency.
Astana city01 February , 14:52

Agreements implementation reached by the Head of State during foreign visits. A whole series of the top-level visits abroad and visits of foreign leaders to Kazakhstan took place since the beginning of 2018, which resulted in about 135 agreements worth more than 30.6 billion dollars.

So, in January 2018, President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev paid official visit to the USA to meet with President Donald Trump and to partake in the UN Security Council sitting. This was the fifth visit of N. Nazarbayev to the US, within the framework of which the two sides signed 20 agreements amounting to 7 billion dollars.

In March 2018, there was one more official visit to the United Arab Emirates. Also that month the Kazakh President was in Uzbekistan.

Several times N. Nazarbayev visited the Russian Federation. Such countries as China, Tatarstan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkey, Tajikistan, Finland, Belgium were also in the lists of the countries visited by the President.

In turn, last year, Kazakhstan was visited by 20 Heads of State, 16 heads of Government, 24 Foreign Ministers, and 2 heads of international organizations.

Acting through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the state cooperated with domestic companies interested in attracting investment and promoting their products for export, with a special focus on SMEs. Support was provided to a number of Kazakhstani companies. For example, organized in August 2018, there was a trade and economic mission of the Kazakh companies to Tajikistan, which resulted in three agreements totaling 18.8 million dollars for the supply of buses, furniture and cars produced in Kazakhstan.

During the enlarged meeting of the Government held this week, the President of Kazakhstan instructed the Government to cooperate with the Governor’s Offices in this issue.

“I am instructing the Government to work with the Governor’s Offices scrupulously. Each Governor is personally responsible for the development of SMEs”, N. Nazarbayev charged.

Minister of Agriculture Umirzak Shukeyev reported on the results of Kazakhstan’s export potential.

“In general, last year Kazakhstan reached the largest volume of grain export – more than 11 million tons. In flax production, we ranked 1st in the world. In 2018, we exported 19.9 thousand tons of beef. In 2019 we set the task - 25 thousand tons”, he said.

According to the information of the Ministry of Industry and Infrastructural Development, for 11 months of 2018, total exports amounted to 54.7 billion dollars and grew by 26.4%. Thus, in the framework of the President’s Address, in order to prevent the loss of traditional export markets, as well as to expand the geography of supplies and product lines for the next 3 years, 500 billion tenge will be allocated.

As for investment, there is a competition for investments in the world. Therefore, the object is to create a complex ecosystem for attracting investment, especially with a focus on investors from the developed countries.

Promotion of the transit transport potential. Implementation of the “Nurly Zhol” program, its interfacing with the “Belt and Road” initiative, development of international transport corridors “Western Europe - Western China”, “TRACECA”, “Trans-Caspian International Transport Route” ensured an optimal logistics chain from the East Coast of China - Lianyungang port, on the system of railways and highways across the Caspian to Europe. The Special Economic zone “Khorgos-Eastern Gate” and the Khorgos International Center of Boundary Cooperation are actively developing.

In the aviation sphere, in the first half of this year, Kazakhstan is planning to launch the first low-cost airline, Fly Arystan. In the first year of operation, it is planned to transport up to one million passengers at prices two times lower. In the medium term, it is planned to carry out flights in the direction of the near abroad.

Also N. Nazarbayev charged to launch flights to the USA and Japan.

Development of the tourism industry in Kazakhstan. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is directly involved in the development of the State Program for the Development of Tourism until 2025. An important area is the liberalization of the visa regime.

The Foreign Ministry is actively working to create a favorable visa policy. Since January 1, 2017, a visa-free regime has been introduced for 61 countries. With 20 countries, there is a mutual visa-free regime. In the near future, it is planned to implement pilot projects on e-visas.

The Foreign Ministry conducts briefings and presentations on the promotion of priority areas of the Kazakh economy, organizes on-site events for the diplomatic corps. Their purpose is to exchange views and practical recommendations on specific issues and areas of development of Kazakhstan.

A reputable institutional network has been created. It’s designed to promote the strengthening and expansion of bilateral trade and economic cooperation at the state level. There are 133 structures, including 60 intergovernmental commissions, 22 subcommissions and 51 working groups with foreign countries in a number of sectoral areas. Business circles established over 20 business councils.

There is active cooperation with international financial and economic organizations. Cooperation with the OECD is of crucial political importance. Kazakhstan is represented in 35 structures of this organization.

Cooperation with the WTO is actively developing. In September, two major events were held in Astana with the participation of WTO Director General Roberto Azevedo. In July 2018, a meeting of the General Council of the organization was held at the WTO headquarters, during which the application of Kazakhstan for holding the 12th Ministerial Conference of the WTO in Astana in June 2020 was unanimously approved by the member states. It is expected that the trade ministers of 164 member states and 20 observer states of the WTO will attend this conference, and the total number of participants in the event will exceed 4,000 people. At the same time, the WTO Ministerial Conference will be held for the first time in the territory of the country that joined the WTO after its foundation in 1995, and for the first time in the Central Asian region.

Active work with the EAEU. The development of the updated Customs Code of the Union, which entered into force in 2018, became a significant step forward. By 2019, it is planned to form a common electricity market, by 2025 – common oil/gas markets, a common financial market.

Work continues in the area of ​​official development assistance (ODA), in particular, to create a national operator in the field of ODA, the KazAID organization, with the 100% state participation.

In accordance with the presidential instructions, a special role in the economic diplomacy of Kazakhstan is assigned to work to assist in attracting foreign direct investment in the country's economy. According to the National Bank of Kazakhstan, the gross inflow of foreign direct investment (FDI) in Kazakhstan for the first half of 2018 amounted to 12.3 billion dollars. From 2005 to the first half of 2018, the economy of Kazakhstan attracted 276.7 billion dollars of FDI. Over the past 2 years, foreign investors have invested over 20 billion dollars annually in the economy of Kazakhstan. The reason lies in the favorable investment climate and it is confirmed by the international ratings.

In the DoingBusiness-2019 World Bank Rating, Kazakhstan ranked 28th, and in terms of the “protection of minority investors” indicator, it ranked 1st among 190 countries of the world.

Kazakhstan exports its goods and services to 117 countries and occupies a leading position in the export of uranium, copper, titanium, ferroalloys, yellow phosphorus, flour, cottonseed oil, wheat, and flax seeds. In the first half of this year Kazakhstan’s exports grew by 24.9% to 29.4 billion dollars.

Saltanat Sarina