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We see a very attractive country for investors Agris Preimanis about Kazakhstan

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Tell us about the most important issues that are raised by the Council today.

Foreign Investors’ Council is working very closely with the Government of Kazakhstan to improve the investment climate. Questions are raised on the overall quality of the investment climate, as well as specific issues related to energy, greening of the economy, improving the regulation of labor force, etc. What is important, the Foreign Investors’ Council is moving to a qualitatively new level of interaction with the Government. It is important to shift from discussing only the issues of the investment climate to discussing how foreign investors can help the Government, the state to improve overall competitiveness, overall growth.

How has the investment climate in Kazakhstan changed in recent years?

The investment climate in Kazakhstan has greatly improved in recent years. Now we see a very attractive country for investors. A lot of work has been done. Foreign Investors’ Council has also played a role, working very tightly on specific problems since the beginning of the 1990s. Now we see Kazakhstan as a country that can and increasingly attracts investors.

How do you assess the results of the Council’s activities over the past year?

The past year was very successful for the Foreign Investors’ Council. A lot of work was done to improve the investment climate in the direction of energy, green energy. Let me remind you that the plenary session last year was focused on the topic of green economy. It took place during the Expo-2017. The tasks that were set by the Head of State were indeed very successful, and investors in both the green economy and other spheres, I think, have already felt the fruits of the work of the Foreign Investors’ Council .

What measures should be taken to improve the country’s competitiveness in terms of attracting foreign direct investment?

On the one hand, all the work that is being done to improve the investment climate remains very important. But now we live in a global world and investors who are looking for investment opportunities in Kazakhstan, Central Asia and other regions are focused not only on the investment climate, but also, of course, on the growth potential of these countries, their competitiveness, market size, etc. So for Kazakhstan together with foreign investors it is very important to focus more and more not only on improving the investment climate, but also on creating leverage for growth. These are issues such as digitalization, integration of Kazakhstan into the regional and global economy. In solving these issues, foreign investors can help the Government with their knowledge, skills, technologies, etc.

What issues the Council is facing this year?

This year the FIC will continue the work on the investment climate and such issues as the improvement and creation of new environmental laws. A lot of work will be focused on creating an environment for attracting quality skills and improving skills to attract labor. The theme of the plenary session this year is the accelerated modernization of Kazakhstan. I am sure that the proposals that foreign investors will make and those that will be presented by the Head of State, the Government will give a very strong program for our work next year. And exactly modernization, improvement of competitiveness are the key issues not only for Kazakhstan, but also for foreign investors who work in the country. The FIC platform is important. It includes investors who invested more than $100 billion in the economy of Kazakhstan. It gives an opportunity to work very effectively on these issues.

2018 marks the 20th anniversary of the Foreign Investors’ Council. How do you assess the work during this period?

You know, I can spend hours talking about the work that has been done over the years since the beginning of the 90s. If we recall, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, with the gaining of independence of Kazakhstan, the work has just begun. And, of course, there was an extremely correct and important decision of the Head of State at that time to focus on attracting foreign investment. Foreign investments are not just resources that come to the country, they are skills and knowledge that these companies have accumulated in other countries for many years of their work and, of course, investments started to come from the very beginning and it was very important to create a climate so that more and more different investments came. It is clear that Kazakhstan is a country rich for mineral resources, oil and other resources. But there are also very good human resources in Kazakhstan. And the creation of the investment climate, which FIC has been working on, was sharpened to attract money and skills to the economy. At the same time, not only in the sphere of subsoil use, but also in other sectors. But, of course, FIC is not only foreign investors. Advantages of FIC is that the work is very tight with the Government of Kazakhstan and foreign investors. Just in the joint work it is possible to find those solutions that are useful and good not only for attracting investments, but for Kazakhstan as a whole.

Attraction of foreign investments to Kazakhstan should be used for the transfer of knowledge and new technologies. Is it possible to do this to the full?

This is probably the key reason to attract foreign investment. The money used for construction and other purposes is, of course, very important. But for Kazakhstan to become a competitive country, technologies and skills are needed. Foreign companies are very successful in translating this knowledge not only into their work, but also to the economy of Kazakhstan. As an example, I can bring our large companies of subsoil use. They have a very large chain of suppliers, companies that work with them. Very often these are small and medium enterprises. They also learn, even the subsoil users use their money to train these companies to introduce new processes. So, not only the companies themselves bring skills by training Kazakhstanis who work in them, but the skills are transferred to other companies that interact with foreign investors. Also in the economy: we see that modernization in different sectors is carried out successfully. Is it possible to do more? Of course. Just this year’s FIC plenary session will give a new impetus to this work on modernization, attracting better skills. It is aimed at making the skills more and more transferred to the economy in general.

What can you offer our country for this task?

For implementation, it is important to shift from focus on the investment climate only to work more and more on levers of growth. I think here FIC can play a very important role. These are companies that have invested heavily, who have global experience in all countries. They can work with the Government to implement the Strategy-2025, the Digitalization Program, the initiative “Economic Belt of the Silk Road.” There may be new initiatives. I think that 2018-2019 will be key to this kind of work.

Source: The Prime Minister of Kazakhstan

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