PROMISE AND POTENTIAL

Kazakhstan 2018 | ECONOMY | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Zhenis Kassymbek, Minister of Investments and Development, on industries with existing potential, promising sectors, and creating a more favorable investment environment.

Zhenis Kassymbek
BIOGRAPHY
Zhenis Kassymbek graduated from the Kazakh State Architecture & Construction Academy in Almaty and the L.N. Gumilyov Eurasian National Academy in Astana. He has worked as Head of Railway Transport & Ports Division at the Agency for Regulation of Natural Monopolies & Competition Pro-tection, Head of the Tariff Policy Division at the Coordination & Tariff Policy Department, Director of the Water-Borne Transport Department at the Ministry of Transport and Communications, and Di-rector of Aktau International Sea Port RSE. He has held several ministerial positions and is currently Minister of Investments and Development.

The ministry has been leading Kazakhstan's efforts to climb up the ease of doing business ranking in recent years. What have been your key objectives and achievements in this respect, and which initiatives can we expect to further ease investment?

A new national strategy was developed to stimulate the inflow of investments, and work on its implementation has already begun. The experts of the World Bank and other international experts took part in the development. The government also drafted and submitted to parliament a draft of the new tax code with the aim of protecting the interests of the taxpayers. In addition, a new code on subsurface and subsoil use has been developed, in which an international system for calculating reserves will be introduced and free access to geological information will be ensured. In addition, a new customs code has been prepared, designed to give a significant incentive to develop business. A draft has been developed that improves the regulation of free economic and industrial zones.

In your view, which sectors of economy will emerge as prime investment opportunities in 2018, and how is the ministry helping to attract investors in these industries?

A number of sectors have been emphasized, and these are the sectors that are the most profitable and most likely to attract new investments aimed at improving efficiency. In general, two groups of industries are selected for proactive attraction of investments that realize the export potential of the Republic of Kazakhstan. Group I is “industries with existing potential:” the food industry, deep processing of oil, gas and minerals (metallurgy, chemistry, and petro-chemistry), as well as engineering. Group I consists of industries in which it is possible to promote FDI focused on improving efficiency in the short or medium term. These industries represent sources of competitive advantages of Kazakhstan and will attract FDI, ultimately using Kazakhstan as a production base for exports. Information work will be proactively targeted at these industries, as well as increasing the quantity and quality of local suppliers. Group II is “promising sectors:” ICT, tourism, and finance. This group consists of industries in which investors should be interested in the long term. These industries demonstrate good potential for attracting investment and increasing exports. For example, in tourism this means increasing the number of incoming tourists. For the financial sector, the successful functioning of the Astana International Financial Center is the first focus. For ICT, we are emphasizing the creation of a critical mass of specialists in this field in the country. In addition, these industries show a steady global demand for new investments and can potentially provide high profits for the country. On the part of the state, a number of activities will be carried out to improve the investment climate. These activities include creating favorable conditions for attracting investments; improving the protection of investors' rights; improving trade logistics and developing supply-side relations between foreign investors and local companies; implementing effective operational measures and development of new approaches to attract investment, improving institutional mechanisms for attracting, maintaining, and supporting investors; and developing proactive approaches to attracting and retaining investments. We are also focusing on PPPs and compliance with the privatization plan and PPP mechanisms with a particular priority on attracting foreign investments and ensuring the participation of foreign investors in the privatization process and PPP projects.