NUR-SULTAN – Despite an economic downturn caused by the global pandemic and recent geopolitical events in Central Asia and Russia, Kazakhstan remains firm in its aim to provide a favorable investment climate and attract more investors. The role of the Foreign Investors Council (FIC), the Kazakh investment advice and consultation body, remains more important than ever.
The Astana Times spoke with Erlan Dosymbekov, Chairman of the Board of the Kazakhstan Foreign Investors Council Association (KFICA) and Managing Partner for Caucasus and Central Asia at EY, about the work of the council and its strategy in light of the new reforms announced by President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev and the current geopolitical situation.
The FIC was established in 1998 with the mission of promoting direct dialogue between the Kazakh government and foreign investors by providing an opportunity to discuss important issues related to the development of the national economy and the improvement of the business climate. investment. The advisory body is chaired by the country’s president.
The KFICA serves as an advisory body on ongoing logistics, coordination of informational and technical support to foreign members of the FIC. The association includes the heads of 41 major transnational companies and international organizations, as well as the heads of key ministries.
Speaking about the main tasks of the FIC within the framework of the President’s reforms, the President said that the tasks of the council remain related to improving the investment climate in Kazakhstan.
“The council will advise on the growth potential of business development, improvement of state regulation in the field of technology, ecology, labor, customs and taxation,” Dosymbekov said. .
According to him, the board offers good value because “on the one hand, the government has access to the international experience of investors in a variety of fields and on the other hand, investors have the opportunity to contribute to the development of the business environment”. .”
“We are working closely with the government, especially in the context of recent reforms, and maintaining a balanced approach to improving the country’s investment attractiveness,” Dosymbekov added.
The Investment Policy Implementation Working Group, a body co-chaired by Dosymbekov, continues to explore options for improving legislation in line with international practice, improving tax and customs administration, and seeking opportunities for investment promotion.
Another key question raised was whether Kazakhstan can continue to be an attractive investment destination amid the geopolitical situation and the sanctions imposed on Russia without jeopardizing its long-term growth.
According to President Dosymbekov, the government of Kazakhstan reacted quickly to the first wave of sanctions against Russia and is now working to prevent possible secondary sanctions. Moreover, in the context of the current geopolitical situation in Ukraine and the negative impact of sanctions on the economy, this could be an opportunity for Kazakhstan.
“In this context, we have made recommendations to find alternative transport corridors and implement import substitution for manufacturing companies. If we look at the sanctions more broadly, we can only admit that the situation itself opens up certain opportunities for foreign investors to come to Kazakhstan. That is why today it is especially important for us to create the conditions for doing business. In the eyes of foreign investors, Kazakhstan should build exactly the investment climate to attract more investors and retain those who are already working in our market,” he said.
He stressed that a transparent business environment, good laws and consistent law enforcement practices were key factors in creating a favorable investment climate.
“If domestic and foreign investors conduct their economic activities successfully here, our economy will get stronger and therefore we will become more resilient to external factors,” he said.
Kazakhstan will also focus on sustainable energy and decarbonization as key investment areas, Dosymbekov said. These topics were at the top of the agenda of the last 34th FIC Plenary Meeting.
“Participants (in the session) expressed practical tools and technologies and the experience of advanced countries on the road to carbon neutrality. There were proposals to develop and implement practical measures to relocate foreign companies and open joint ventures, increase investments in green sectors of the national economy and projects that will contribute to the reduction of carbon emissions,” Dosymbekov said.
During the plenary session, President Tokayev also highlighted the main achievement of the council over the past year.
“Last year, foreign partners invested approximately $24 billion in our economy, which is 38% more than the previous year. Remarkably, the non-primary sector of the economy already accounts for more than 60% of total foreign investment inflows. We greatly appreciate these investments and will do everything to fulfill all our obligations to foreign partners,” the president said.