FORCES OF ATTRACTION

Kazakhstan 2017 | ECONOMY | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Zhanseit Tuymenbayev, Mayor of the South Kazakhstan region, on all the work that is being done to strengthen the region's attraction for tourists and business interests alike.

Zhanseit Tuymenbayev
BIOGRAPHY
Zhanseit Tuymenbayev graduated from the Kirov Kazakh State University (1980) with a PhD in philology and worked as an associate professor. In September 1999 he was appointed Chief of Protocol of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan. In 2004 he was appointed advisor to President of the Republic of Kazakhstan. In February 2006 he became the Ambassador of Kazakhstan to the Russian Federation. In 2007 he was appointed Minister of Education and Science of the Republic of Kazakhstan. In 2010 he was appointed Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Kazakhstan for the Turkish Republic, and for Albania in 2011 concurrently. In 2016 he was appointed Mayor of the South Kazakhstan Region.

You were appointed Mayor of the South Kazakhstan region in October 2016. Since then, what areas have been your special priorities?

Modern Kazakhstan is experiencing truly tectonic changes. They cover practically all spheres of life. The “Plan of the Nation” gave a special boost to the modern transformation and upgrading of our country. It is known as the Five Institutional Reforms for the Social and Economic and Political Upgrading of Kazakh Society. The initiator of these reforms was our President Nursultan Nazarbayev. The cardinal changes that are taking place presuppose Kazakhstan's entry into the list of 30 developed countries of the world. To achieve this noble goal, serious foundations have been established in our country. The major ones are civil peace, stability, and aspiration to increase social and economic stability. Kazakhstan, in the years of its post-Soviet and independent development, has gained recognition and trust from the world, including the business community. To govern such a large place as the South Kazakhstan region is a task of increased responsibility. More than 3 million people live here. The main priority is to ensure the significant role of the South-Kazakhstan Region in the country's economy. Its implementation includes a series of tasks aimed at improving the social climate and creating conditions for the development of SMEs. In this context, Kazakhstani society as a whole has been moving steadily for the last 25 years. Now the task of transforming Shymkent into the country's third metropolis has begun. Work has begun on improving the architectural appearance of the city, developing infrastructure, and landscaping. The main driver of the country's economy is the agrarian sector. Our region has historically been in the midst of favorable conditions for the development of agriculture.

What are the main advantages of investing in the South Kazakhstan region?

Our region from an investment standpoint is attractive due to its great agrarian and industrial capacity. These two factors, in my opinion, are determining and the most favorable. A radical turn from the global attachment of mankind to hydrocarbon resources should start with a reference to the earth as the primary source of human wellbeing. At the same time, the conditions of the fifth techno-economic paradigm, in which the bulk of our countries are now, have urged us to turn to industrial changes. In our region, 11 industrial zones have been launched and are being constructed. Already today, 151 investment projects are being implemented. As part of the Business Roadmap 2020, industrial zones are provided with internal and external infrastructure. And this is done at the expense of the state. A special economic zone, Ontustik, has been established in the territory of the region. It provides competitive advantages for those who come there in the form of benefits and preferences and a special tax and customs regime. Participants are exempt from certain types of taxes. For example, corporate tax is 0%. Also, benefits are provided for property and land taxes. The VAT on goods will be eased in the territory of this zone.

What measures and policies are applied by the local administration to attract local and foreign investors and strengthen social and economic development?

First of all, relationships with diplomatic missions of foreign countries have been established. In 2016, we conducted five road shows in foreign countries. The forums Ontustik Invest 2016, Ontustik Tourism 2016, Kazakhstan-Israel Business Forum, and the Forum of Iranian Commodity Producers were held, and during this time 27 official delegations visited us. In early February, the Kazakh-Turkish Investment Forum was held, within the framework of which five memorandums on joint bilateral cooperation were signed. This year we will hold the international investment forum Ontustik Invest 2017. Examples of successful attraction of foreign capital include projects implemented jointly with transnational companies like pharmaceutical giant Polpharma of the joint-stock company ChimFarm. The South Korean conglomerate LOTTE Group invested KZT3.1 billion to complete the first stage of an upgrade on the confectionery factory Rakhat-Shymkent. Heidelberg Cement Group is finalizing an upgrade of the Shymkent Cement Plant to the amount of KZT20 billion. Russia's PharmaSynthesis Company started the construction of a cardiac drugs production plant in the Free Economic Zone in Shymkent. We also plan to implement projects including a textile factory, Azala Fabric, and the construction of a polypropylene production plant.

The South Kazakhstan region is the location of an exceptionally cultural and historic city, Turkistan, which attracts thousands of pilgrims. What is being done to further advance the city as a tourist destination?

Kazakhstan has initiated a program to revive the historical centers of the Silk Road, preserve the cultural heritage of Turkic-speaking countries, and establish a tourism infrastructure program. Also, the national company Silk Road-Kazakhstan has been established and, within a short period of time, it has managed to restore a significant amount of unique architectural complexes. Thanks to this, the traditions of Turkic-speaking peoples will be preserved for centuries. Turkistan is a place of worship for Turkic-speaking peoples. Turkistan is the heart of the Silk Road and the capital of the Turkic world. The abundance of historical and cultural monuments and artifacts along the ancient caravan track ensures great interest and attractiveness of the tourist product. The work of the Tourism Council under the government of Kazakhstan has been intensified. In particular, the Tourism Information Center was established, and that is a place where tourists have the opportunity to request any information about Turkistan. Today, the brand of Ontustik has been established, which is one of the marketing tools for increasing the competitiveness of the tourist region. We took into account the needs of tourists and developed entrepreneurship and cooperation, marketing strategies, competitive prices, and a competent and diverse product portfolio for Turkistan. According to the forecasts of culturologists, it is expected that there will be a significant influx of pilgrims and tourists to Turkistan. In 2016, the influx of tourists was about 1 million, and by 2021 it is expected to increase up to 6 million people. Therefore, the upgrade of the urban planning system is planned in order to establish a historical and cultural base and engineer tourist infrastructure to ensure high-quality service and create a stronger image as a tourist attraction.

What are your expectations and forecasts for 2017?

Specialists visiting Germany, the UK, Georgia, Spain, Italy, Turkey, Russia, and other countries will enable us to adopt best practices in the development of our engineering process, as well as enable the exchange of experiences with the establishment of smart cities. Already, we are receiving recommendations on how to improve the quality of management and proposals for developing and implementing innovative ideas, maximizing the effectiveness of public and private structures. Construction is already underway. Industrial zones are attractions for investors and one of the important areas that needs to be developed in the South Kazakhstan region. Now all requisite conditions are being created for foreign and local investors who are willing to cooperate.