SIGNIFICANT MOMENTS

Kazakhstan 2015 | DIPLOMACY | GUEST SPEAKER

TBY talks to Carlo Calenda, Italian Deputy Minister for Economic Development, on bilateral relations between Kazakhstan and Italy.

Carlo Calenda
BIOGRAPHY
Carlo Calenda was born in 1973 and graduated from the University of Rome with a degree in law. Until 2011 he was CEO at Interporto Campano, and from 2004 to 2008 was assistant to the President of Confindustria, the Italian industrial association. He has worked on major issues relating to international trade and investments. He has also led several overseas delegations of entrepreneurs and developed economic penetration activities in major world markets, including India, China, Brazil, Russia, the UAE, Thailand, Kazakhstan, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, Egypt, Turkey, Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Israel, South Africa, and Mexico. In May 2013 he was appointed Vice Minister for Economic Development, in charge of internationalization policies in the Letta cabinet, and was confirmed in the role by PM Renzi in 2014.

How would you assess the nature of diplomatic relations between Kazakhstan and Italy?

Italy and Kazakhstan, since the dawn of independence, have always been excellent partners, both in political and economic terms. The opening of our diplomatic relations immediately after the declaration of independence, the fact that Italy was the first EU Member to locate its embassy in the nation's new capital, and the number of fruitful meetings between our leaders—among which the last discussion held between Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and President Nazarbayev was last October—proves that our ties go beyond daily relations. Prime Minister Renzi and President Nazarbayev have entrusted us with the task of re-launching and deepening those excellent bilateral relations. A first step in this direction was the notable Italian business mission to Almaty and Astana last November, with over 120 participants belonging to strategic sectors of our partnership, such as clothing, agro-industry, infrastructure, and construction materials.

Italy is a strategic economic partner for Kazakhstan, accounting for 13% of the country's total foreign trade turnover. What sectors of Kazakhstan's economy are particularly appealing for Italian companies?

Economic and commercial relations are excellent in terms of numbers. From a commercial point of view, in 2013 Italy was the fifth client and eighth supplier to Kazakhstan. At the European level, Italy is the second trade partner of the country. Clothing, agro-industry, infrastructure, and construction materials—the selected sectors for November's mission—are among the most promising for the development of bilateral relations, given the strong appreciation for made in Italy products, the growing purchasing power of the population, as well as the several infrastructure projects launched by the Kazakhstani government. However, energy, the traditional sector of greatest bilateral cooperation, continues to offer lucrative opportunities to our companies. Other highly promising sectors are those of machinery and construction materials. Finally, interesting opportunities exist in the green economy and high-efficiency technologies, also in view of Expo 2017, the slogan of which is “Future Energy." The event will be dedicated to the development of energy-sustainable and responsible policies and technologies.

What advantages does Kazakhstan offer Italian investors?

Beside the advantageous conditions provided for by the law on investment attraction and the decision to lift visa requirements for countries like Italy, Kazakhstan offers many other opportunities. It is a country growing at high rates of between 4% and 5%, and also has huge reserves, an important public investment program in infrastructure (road and rail networks, port on the Caspian Sea, airports modernization), new technologies (including renewable), and has seen its per capita GDP grow to significant levels. Kazakhstan, moreover, belongs—along with the Russian Federation and Belarus—to the Eurasian Customs Union, with a market of about 170 million people, opening perspectives for investment in Kazakhstan as a hub for other Member Countries.

You recently led a business delegation to Kazakhstan. What are the highlights and achievements that characterize this event?

Many opportunities have arisen during the B2B meeting between entrepreneurs in the course of the recent business mission. With governmental counterparts we have jointly decided to draft a cooperation program for the short and medium term, with precise and verifiable objectives. For this, an important moment will be the Joint Economic Commission in early 2015.