Asylkhan Serikov, Chairman of the Committee on Investments, on the climate for FDI in Kazakhstan, and the role of the Foreign Investors Council.
According to international experts, Kazakhstan is currently seen among the most attractive destinations for foreign investment across the world.
Kazakhstan pursues a policy of openness, transparency, and stability, which serves as key to attract foreign companies to the country. The amount of investments also shows the trust foreign investors have in Kazakhstan.
During the period from 1993 to end-2011, $146.6 billion of FDI was attracted into Kazakhstan’s economy. Moreover, we are witnessing a positive growth trend.
The year 2011 saw Kazakhstan attract $19.9 billion of FDI to the economy, which is 10% more than in 2010 ($18.1 billion).
Our country ranks second after Russia among the CIS countries in terms of accumulated FDI over the past 10 years, and is a leader in terms of accumulated foreign investments per capita. Investments in Kazakhstan come mainly from the US, the Netherlands, the UK, France, Italy and Germany, which together bring advanced technology and innovation into the country.
Kazakhstan already has about 8,000 companies operating with the support of foreign capital in its territory, including companies from the Fortune 500, which clearly indicates the investment attractiveness of the country.
In 1998, the Foreign Investors Council (FIC) was established with a view to achieve better interaction between foreign investors and local companies. Today, the FIC includes the heads of 30 of the largest foreign investment companies representing various sectors of the economy. Since its establishment, the council annually discusses the most important economic trends in the country and makes recommendations on various issues, such as the modernization of enterprises, the development of local content, the training of staff, the improvement of the taxation system, the simplification of bureaucratic procedures, the building of the national image, the increased of transparency of legislative process, and the protection of the environment, among many others. Mutually acceptable decisions are made on all matters, allowing Kazakhstan to successfully develop international economic cooperation and adopt the world’s best practices.
The successful attraction of investments would not be possible without a corresponding legislative base, which has provided favorable conditions for foreign and local investors. The Law On Investments was adopted in 2003, and provides full protection for investors’ rights.
Moreover, the new Law on Special Economic Zones (SEZs) was adopted in 2011, which allowed a comprehensive restructuring of their activities. The law provides the involvement of professional management companies in the development of SEZs and creates a single-window work format. Today, Kazakhstan has nine special economic zones in operation.
A significant contribution to attracting investments and technology into the non-extractive sector is provided for in the 2010-2014 State Program on Accelerated Industrial-Innovative Development of the Country. The program determines clear strategic goals for the diversification and accelerated industrialization of the Kazakhstani economy, where main emphasis is directed toward the development of high-tech and innovative sectors.
Under this program and through ongoing work to improve the investment attractiveness of the country, the national plan to attract investments and the related program, as well as the development of special economic zones and export promotion in Kazakhstan between 2010 and 2014 has been adopted and are currently being realized.
The main objectives of these programs are to improve the investment legislation of the country, promote Kazakhstan’s image as an investment destination, pursue a collaborative system while working with foreign investors, and develop more SEZs. The result of the adoption of these measures will allow for significant procedural alleviations, including issuing visas, creating favorable conditions for investors’ stay in the country—specifically in the regions—and supporting investors, both at central and regional levels.
In addition to the national investment legislation aimed at the promotion and protection of investments, the government has signed bilateral agreements on the promotion and mutual protection of investments with 46 countries.
The programs adopted and measures undertaken by the government are the major tools for attracting investments and they will further promote the improvement of country’s investment image.
Owing to the active pursuit and implementation of these policies, Kazakhstan remains in an advanced position in terms of attracting investments, not only among the countries of the CIS region, but worldwide.
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