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  • 03 Oct 2018 12:00 AM | Alexander Belyasov (Administrator)

    CERBA Corporate Member, Intermark Relocation is happy to inform you that now they are starting Intermark Club - the new community for foreigners in Russia, making life of a foreigner fun and exciting, and the adaptation smooth and safe.

    Intermark Club is a platform that provides you with best events information – concerts, plays, festivals, tours and meetings; English-friendly venues that offer discounts and privileges; schedules of movie showings in their original language; and shares lifehacks on life in Russia from expats and Intermark experts.

    Learn more about Intermark Club at the following link: http://intermarkclub.ru/

    Joining the community and becoming an Intermark Club Member is free-of-charge.

    Please feel free to share information about your favorite places with Intermark Club to make the fullest digest of all the fun in Russia!

  • 26 Sep 2018 12:00 AM | Alexander Belyasov (Administrator)

    In an impressive showing, 54 Gowling WLG professionals earned 58 rankings across 34 categories in the 2019 edition of Chambers Canada. In addition, Gowling WLG was recognized as a leading law firm in 31 practice areas.

    This year, Gowling WLG was shortlisted for the Life Sciences "Firm of the Year" award. This honour recognizes notable achievements over the past 12 months in life sciences law, including outstanding work, impressive strategic growth and excellence in client service.

    For more than two decades, Chambers and Partners have been identifying the top lawyers and firms across 185 jurisdictions around the world. The rankings in Chambers Canada are based on an extensive peer and client interview process in which a number of qualities are assessed – from technical ability and client service to diligence and professional conduct.

    Please use the following link to find the practice areas in which Gowling WLG was recognized as a leading law firm: https://gowlingwlg.com/en/news/awards-recognition/2018/chambers-canada-2019/?utm_source=vuture&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=vuture/


  • 17 Jul 2018 10:10 AM | Bakytzhamal Jetmekova

    Citigroup, one of the first international banks to enter the Kazakh market, is marking its 25th anniversary in the country. It feels current conditions in Kazakhstan provide ample opportunities for large multinational corporations.

    “Kazakhstan is an important market for us. Over the years, we have succeeded in establishing our subsidiary as a key player in the country’s banking industry, developed deep relationships with the government and the largest local corporates and grew our capital base to over $400 million, so that we have become the leading foreign investor in the country outside of the commodities sector. Since early 2000, we have helped Kazakhstan’s issuers raise more than $30 billion in financing,” Citi Chief Executive Officer for Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) James Cowles said.

    The Citigroup franchise has established itself as the most reliable corporate bank in the country and become the mainstay for the vast majority of international corporations operating in Kazakhstan. As of April, Citibank Kazakhstan ranks first in payment volumes, seventh among Kazakh banks in capital (142.03 billion tenge (US$414 million)) and 11th by assets with a 30.1 billion tenge (US$87 million) increase since the beginning of the year.

    Citigroup has branches in Almaty and the capital and representative offices in Aktau and Atyrau. “We continue to build on our strategy of sustainable, targeted investments to drive increased market share and revenue growth. We are focused on being the best for our clients. We focus on innovation and are using technology to enhance our capabilities, improve the experiences of our clients and to lower our costs,” said Cowles.

    The bank serves multinational companies, emerging market champions, the public sector, institutional investors and an ultrahigh network of EMEA households. “We recently opened a new office in Saudi Arabia, where their Vision 2030 plan is especially ambitious and exciting. I expect significant growth in the banking sector in the Middle East and Africa in the coming years. We also see growth potential in Western Europe and it’s another area of focus in our EMEA priorities,” he added.

    Last year was a strong one in investment banking. Citigroup significantly improved its wallet share in mergers and acquisitions (M&A) and equity capital markets (ECM). “We ended the year ranked second in EMEA in investment banking revenues, our highest ranking ever. In ECM, we topped the volume tables and ended the year as number one in overall ECM and IPOs (initial public offerings). We have a differentiated strategy, have refined our client base and are extremely focused on delivering for that set of clients,” he said.

    Kazakhstan plays a pivotal role in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), as one of the key BRI pillars – the Eurasian land bridge – is being developed almost entirely in Kazakhstan.

    “The country has become host of the largest dry port in the world, located in Khorgos, which will help bridge the railway systems of China and Kazakhstan and the rest of Eurasia and Europe, leading to a significant reduction in the shipment cycle for international trade,” said Cowles.

    The country’s location is critical for Chinese goods leaving for many countries, including those in the European Union and North America.

    “Kazakhstan is benefitting from significant Chinese investments and there are around 50 projects that the government has announced it is supporting as part of its renewed and strengthened cooperation with China. Kazakhstan has become one of the few countries that has supported the BRI with its own Nurly Zhol programme, where the government co-invests in important projects in industries such as oil and gas, chemicals, industrial production and others,” he added.

    The government has made significant progress in creating a favourable climate for foreign direct investment (FDI), he noted.

    “According to official estimates, the volume of FDI has reached nearly $300 billion since the early 1990s, making Kazakhstan the leading country by FDI per capita among the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) countries. Kazakhstan is tightly integrated into regional trade and the global economy and is well positioned to benefit from BRI,” he said.

    Citigroup is also pleased to be part of the Foreign Investor Council (FIC) under the President of Kazakhstan, which provides a platform for exchanging views and networking with investors.

    “The FIC composition – over 30 companies representing major multinationals and key foreign players operating in the country – is another testament to the fact that Kazakhstan has become host to many of the largest corporates in the world,” he said.

    Cowles also spoke about his expectations in banking sector development.

    “Our experience in emerging economies is that the wallet for financial services tends to expand by 1.5 times-twice the rate of economic growth. As Kazakhstan continues to rebound from the crisis and to open up to foreign investment, that bodes well for the banking sector. As the wallet for financial services grows, I would expect the banking sector to become more competitive. At Citi, we see an opportunity to partner with local banks to help them expand their product offerings, for example,” he said.


  • 17 Jul 2018 10:06 AM | Bakytzhamal Jetmekova

    Kazakhstan’s ambitious project to establish a financial services centre in Astana is now real, as the country launched July 5 the Astana International Financial Centre (AIFC).

    The new financial centre, in a new part of Astana where the city hosted EXPO 2017, is set to offer financial services, including in financial technologies, Islamic finance, green finance, capital market and asset management.

    The centre has a management council, a financial services regulator, AIFC exchange, an independent financial court involving nine judges from the U.K. and the U.S., and an arbitration centre, among other bodies.

    Kazakh officials expect the centre to attract $40 billion of investments by 2025.

    The AIFC is the brainchild of Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev who voiced the idea to set up the centre in 2015 with benefits offered to companies, an independent court and English common law principles incorporated in the work of the centre.

    “The AIFC is a new chapter of independent Kazakhstan. Its launch is an important step in the steady and sustainable development of Kazakhstan,” Nazarbayev told a grandiose ceremony July 5 also attended by Abu Dhabi Crown Sheikh Prince Mohammed bin Zayed bin Sultan Al-Nahyan, Islamic Development Bank Chair Bandar Hajjar and JP Morgan Chase International Chair Jacob Frenkel.

    Kazakhstan recognised the need for long-term, sustainable institutions, he said.

    “We thoroughly studied the global experience in establishment, development and work of financial centres across the world including in Singapore, Dubai, Hong Kong and other countries. The Kazakh model of the AIFC incorporated best practices of these structures,” said Nazarbayev.

    “Astana should become the main financial hub of the region and in the long-term perspective should be among leading Asian financial centres,” said the Kazakh President.

    The centre enjoys a special legal regime envisioned by constitutional law and offers incentives to companies, including exemption from corporate income tax and personal income tax for 50 years, a visa-free regime for citizens of 48 countries and a simplified employment regime.

    Fifty companies have registered at the AIFC so far.

    English common law principles will regulate the work of the centre and, according to Andrew Oldland, senior partner at British law service firm Michelmores, English law is characterised by flexibility and convenience encouraging countries to rely on it in the finance sector.

    The AIFC stock exchange will list Kazakh national companies, part of the country’s Samruk Kazyna Sovereign Wealth Fund, and Islamic bonds Sukuk scheduled to go for initial public offering later this year.

    Boston Consulting Group Chair Hans Paul Bürkner said the IPO and the country’s large-scale privatisation programme will serve “another major accelerator for development of Kazakhstan and position Kazakhstan as a regional financial centre” as well as provide a major boost to develop capital markets.

    Bürkner also emphasised green finance and financial technology as growth engines for the centre. “Boston Consulting Group had the privilege to be working with you and team on the idea of the AIFC and it has become a real milestone in the development of Kazakhstan and Astana and stock financial markets here,” he said.

    International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde conveyed her congratulations and said the AIFC is a “great opportunity and platform for Kazakhstan and region to develop deeper financial market and attract investment.”

    “Transparent, reliable and favourable normative base for the market, modern infrastructure and strong human capital will boost the potential of the AIFC in reaching the scale of a regional hub, an example of innovation use, high quality services, effective management and reasonable methods of dispute settlement,” said Pulitzer Prize winning author Daniel Yergin hosting the ceremony as he read her letter.

    Francis Maude, former U.K. cabinet minister and member of the AIFC consultative council, said Kazakhstan is a growing market with untapped potential.

    “The country occupies a really important strategic position. The potential for the financial centre is huge and this is a growing market. The centre of gravity of the world’s economy is moving east over time and Eurasia is key part of that,” said Maude.

    Investors are also interested in continuing reforms in Kazakhstan, he added. “This is a young country. Moving from a command economy to a genuine market economy takes time. As the government acknowledges, there is a need for more structural reforms in economy. You need this country to be where it is easy to set up business, grow business and create jobs,” said Maude.



  • 25 May 2018 9:30 AM | Alexander Belyasov (Administrator)

    On May 23, 2018, Alinga Consulting held a free seminar. The seminar reviewed the latest changes in the tax and currency legislation, as well as the implementation of the program to develop federal standards for 2017 - 2019 and how to prepare for the transition to new standards. Alinga's legal team talked about future changes in the rules of using corporate transport. A large number of listeners expressed a desire to participate in future seminars. The seminar organizers received considerable positive feedback. The presentations may be reviewed on Alinga’s website. http://www.acg.ru/alinga_seminar_5-2018


  • 22 May 2018 2:38 PM | Bakytzhamal Jetmekova

    ASTANA – Kazakhstan has developed SmartTran, a unique digital technology to transport oil through main pipelines. Inventors TransOil technical policy department director Berik Sayakhov and Satbayev University Modeling in Power Engineering research and production laboratory head Uzak Zhappasbayev described the programme in an interview with kapital.kz.

    “Solving energy efficiency problems is one of the most significant tasks for the oil and gas sector in Kazakhstan, in particular, pipeline transport,” they told the news outlet.

    SmartTran automates energy saving modes for oil transportation planning and management systems, improves workers’ productivity and ensures the pipelines’ competitiveness. The programme processes real-time data received from dispatch control to operate as well as manage transportation technology in the main pipelines. It also dramatically increases pipeline operation and efficient reliability.

    The research was completed in several stages. After a database was created and modelled, the system was optimised and then integrated with SCADA (Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition) and ASCEM (Automated System for Commercial Electricity Metering). The technology included digitising the entire transportation system production procedure. The five-year process, from 2012-2017, was completed with a 128 million tenge (US$388,224) investment.

    SmartTran has been incorporated into the KazTransOil (KTO) oil mix control system. It determines the pumping modes’ energy saving, economic and technological efficiency during transportation along the company’s pipeline routes.

    The programme also uses real-time operational data (process equipment operation modes, oil pumping volumes and parameters, etc.) from SCADA. In turn, it determines the optimum operating conditions for pumping units and heating furnaces for energy-saving transportation through the KTO pipeline routes. Incorporating SmartTran at the company’s facilities is a complex and lengthy process requiring an entire production system performance assessment.

    “In addition to KazTransOil, the consumers of the technology can be the Caspian Pipeline Consortium, the Kazakhstan-China Oil Pipeline, the North-Western Pipeline Company Munai Tas, Karachaganak Petroleum Operating B.V. and Turgai Petroleum. In general, this technology, with some modifications, can be used for pumping oil mixtures in oil companies’ pipelines in the field,” said the inventors.

    Unlike control systems used in Canada, Russia, the U.S. and other countries, the technology transports high-viscosity, high-hardening (paraffin) oil mixtures in areas with several oil pumping stations and heating points while ensuring the safety of the main pipeline.

    The distinctive feature is the way the programme can simulate and optimise hot pumping, as more than 15 million tonnes of Kazakh oil mixtures are transported in this way. Oil mixtures are hardened in heating furnaces and the energy efficiency is determined by the furnace and pumping units’ optimum condition, taking into account primary pipeline thermal regime safety conditions.

    “For instance, hot pumping modelling and optimisation at the main Uzen-Atyrau-Samara pipeline sections will lead to significant energy savings in the pump units and heating furnace,” said the developers.

    According to the laws of hydraulics, the specific electricity consumption utilised to pump oil proportionally increases oil turnover to 1.75. The figure indicates the need to reduce oil transportation costs by determining the energy saving modes of the equipment (pumping units, heating furnace, etc.). SmartTran can simulate and optimise the pumping volume, technological equipment operation and oil and oil mixtures transportation via the KTO pipelines.

    “The pipeline transportation energy saving is largely related to energy costs for oil transportation and heating. Almost 70 percent of the consumed electricity is expended for the pumping units’ operation and in the case of oil transportation through the hot oil pipeline, costs are increased by 85 percent due to the oil heating furnace operation,” said the developers.

    In an environment where oil prices are unstable and oil production is increasing, finding a decent way to face energy challenges has become essential. SmartTrans will lead to an increase in labour productivity, progress in technological modes to transport oil and petroleum mixtures and efficiently plan and manage KTO’s main oil pipelines.

    “In 2018, all oil pipeline routes of the KazTransOil’s main pipelines will be optimised for pumping oil and oil mixtures in energy-saving modes. Based on their results, we can talk about the specific economic effect from the introduction of technology at the company’s facilities,” said Sayakhov and Zhappasbayev.

  • 08 May 2018 11:40 AM | Bakytzhamal Jetmekova

    On May 1, Ambassador Konstantin Zhigalov hosted a farewell reception at Fairmont Chateau Laurier Ottawa upon completion of his tenure as the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Kazakhstan to Canada, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Jamaica. He thanked the Canadian Government, Parliament, private sector and all friends of the Embassy, as well as the diplomatic corps, for excellent cooperation over the last 6 years that he had spent in Ottawa.

    Since his appointment in January 2012, Ambassador Zhigalov has visited all Canadian provinces and territories multiple times and has been closely involved in the development of the Kazakhstan Canada Parliamentary Cooperation Group and the Kazakhstan Canada Business Council.

    Regular exchange of parliamentary and business delegations contributed to expanding channels of communication between the two countries and led to signing a number of bilateral agreements, including the Inter-Governmental Agreement on Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy. On the international stage, Canada has supported Kazakhstan’s accession to the World Trade Organization in 2015 and, as one of the top-10 investors in Kazakhstan’s economy, continues dialogue on a number of issues, including Kazakhstan’s efforts within the OECD.

    Senate Liberal Leader Joseph A. Day, in his capacity of the Co-Chair of the Parliamentary Cooperation Group, thanked Ambassador Zhigalov for his strong commitment to strengthening Canada-Kazakhstan partnership and saluted significant milestones achieved during his tenure.

    On April 27, President Nursultan Nazarbayev has appointed Ambassador Zhigalov as Kazakhstan’s Ambassador to Spain. On the same day, former Deputy Foreign Minister Akylbek Kamaldinov has been appointed to be Ambassador of the Republic of Kazakhstan to Canada.


  • 08 May 2018 11:38 AM | Bakytzhamal Jetmekova

    Kazakhstan’s foreign trade turnover increased by 25 percent to $69.5 billion last year. The country’s exports increased by 30 percent and reached $48.3 billion; imports grew by 15.5 percent to $29.3 billion, Minister for Investment and Development of Kazakhstan Zhenis Kassymbek reported at a May 2 government meeting. 

    Over four years from 2013 to 2017, the share of manufacturing exports in Kazakhstan’s total exports increased from 23 to 32 percent.

    “This year we are observing a positive export trend. According to relevant data, in the first two months of this year, exports exceeded $8.8 billion, which is 27.4 percent – $1.9 billion – higher than in the same period last year,” Kassymbek said.

    In the meantime, the country provides financial and service support to boost export volumes.

    “In 2010-2017, exporters were provided with financial and insurance support worth more than 112.6 billion tenge (US$340.6 million). The government also ensured export trade financing worth 14.7 billion tenge (US$44.4 million) and pre-export financing at 5 billion tenge (US$15.1 million). More than 40 exporters receive financial support every year. As part of the service support for exporters in 2010 to 2017, 1,800 manufacturers were able to conclude export contracts for more than $2 billion, including $197 million in 2017. Expenses were compensated to 204 exporters for 1.6 billion tenge (US$4.84 million). Every year more than 400 exporters receive service support in the country,” the minister said.

    To increase the share of non-primary sector exports, the government is working with the ministries, the Atameken National Chamber of Entrepreneurs, Kazakh Invest, the Kazakh Export insurance company and local executive agencies to modernise existing enterprises and introduce new export-oriented industries. The market shows a steady trend since 2015 with the introduction of seven-eight new products to foreign markets.

    “In 2017, eight new products were brought to foreign markets: Niva and Peugeot cars, solar panels, gas boilers, cartridges, rails, POS-terminals and dry mare’s milk,” Kassymbek pointed out.

    Digital Railway strategy to increase speed, convenience, savings Astana Times, 4 May 2018

    Kazakh national rail company Kazakhstan Temir Zholy (KTZ) President Kanat Alpysbayev reported on the implementation of the country’s Digital Railways strategy during the May 2 government meeting on export, consumer and transport digitisation policies.

    Transport makes up 8 percent of Kazakhstan’s gross domestic product and has been increasing by at least 4.5 percent each year. Kazakhstan’s population of 18 million owns 5.3 million automobiles, suggesting 29 out of 100 people in the country possess a vehicle, compared to 14 out of 100 in the rest of the Commonwealth of Independent States and 48 out of 100 in Europe. In 2017, 2.5 million traffic violations were registered in Kazakhstan.

    The 2018-2022 Digital Railway strategy sketches the implementation of 21 projects, two of which are being implemented under the Digital Kazakhstan state programme. The Digital Railway project aims to reduce traffic violations up to 85 percent, increase the average speed of travel around the city, improve passenger transport safety and reduce the environmental footprint of KTZ’s transport options.

    An eight-component process has been laid out to meet these goals. The first component is the further application of modern information systems in KTZ’s critical operating segments – cargo transportation, passenger transportation, railway infrastructure and transport logistics.

    Other components involve controlling cost optimisation, launching digital road diagnostics and implementing Traffic Management and Digital Services Centres at 17 railway stations. Internet ticketing options and another 17,000 ticket terminals are to be available in the near future, and waiting list and train rating programmes have already been launched. E-ticket sales currently make up 64 percent of all sales; by 2020, it is hoped that they will make 90 percent.

    “It is planned to realise a 24/7 system of centralised management of customer appeals for prompt feedback to customers through timely response to complaints and suggestions,” added Alpysbayev.

    Likewise, a single electronic exchange platform is being created for multimodal transport, particularly transit container movements with the account of more than 1,700 customers-participants. Automated processes are underway at Khorgos-Eastern Gate on the border with China that can potentially reduce traffic checkpoint time from 10 minutes to 30 seconds, and diminish registration costs from $2,395 to $239.50 per every registration, which in turn cuts the risk of corruption offences.

    Information systems are also being introduced in freight rail transport to increase the efficiency of the organisation of transportation processes, ensure the timely delivery and safety of goods and simplify procedures for crossing the borders of other railway administrations.

    “The company completed a service for the online tracking of goods, including a system of electronic lock devices that ensures the safety of cargo and a prompt response to any unauthorised attempt to access cargo. An automated system of contractual and commercial work was presented during the report. An e-freight paperless workflow system for air cargo is going to be implemented this year, and the project costs are estimated to be around 5.4 billion tenge (US$16.2 million). “We have implemented 100 percent paperless transportation of goods, as well as integration with the Astana-1 information system,” said Alpysbayev.

    According to preliminary estimates, the total economic effect from the implementation of the strategy will be 110 billion tenge (US $331.3 million) by 2025.

    The overall long-term effects of the programme are hoped to be a 20 percent reduction in travel time, availability of information up to 70 percent, an 8 to 10 percent reduction in traffic accidents and a drop of harmful emissions by 24 percent. The positive economic impact of all of this is expected to be 380 billion tenge (US $1.14 billion).

    “Successful implementation of Digital Kazakhstan projects will ensure the advancement of the country’s logistics environment,” Alpysbayev emphasised.

    Business forum France-Kazakhstan held in Astana Timesca.com, 27.04.2018

    A round table of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry France–Kazakhstan entitled "France– Kazakhstan: 10 years of strategic partnership" was held on April 26 in Astana with the participation of the Prime Minister of Kazakhstan Bakytzhan Sagintayev, the official website of the Prime Minister of Kazakhstan reported.

    Representatives of business structures of the two countries took part in the forum.

    In his welcoming address to the forum participants, PM Sagintayev noted that France is one of the main trade partners of Kazakhstan in Europe, over a ten-year period of strategic partnership, cooperation has been established in many areas of development, and the Kazakh government supports French companies operating in Kazakhstan.

    Speaking about institutional reforms in Kazakhstan, Sagintayev emphasized that the goal of a consistent course for the Third Modernization of the country, initiated by the Kazakh President, is the creation of a new model of economic growth. The state policy is based on technological modernization, strengthening of the quality of human capital and the development of innovations. A large-scale national project on digitalization has been launched.

    The Prime Minister also noted that Kazakhstan is continuing its steady course to increase global competitiveness, improving the investment climate and opening the country and market to friends and partners, and expressed confidence that the French business community will be able to take an active part in this rich and diverse economic agenda.

    During the round table, issues of technological modernization, digitization, development of innovations, formation of a new economy in Kazakhstan, and participation of French business in these processes were discussed. The entrepreneurs of the two countries considered promising areas for the implementation of joint projects in the fields of agriculture, mining and manufacturing, civil aviation, transport and trade, tourism, standardization, and education.

    According to official statistics, trade between Kazakhstan and France for 2017 amounted to $3.3 billion, which is 38.5% higher than in 2016 ($2.5 billion). Exports from Kazakhstan last year amounted to $2.8 billion, which is 59.7% higher than in 2016 ($1.8 billion).

    The gross inflow of direct foreign investments to Kazakhstan for 2005-2017 was $264.4 billion, of which $14.1 billion was from France. As of 1 April 2018, 220 legal entities, branches and representative offices with French participation were registered in Kazakhstan. Citizens of France can freely enter Kazakhstan without a visa, and the capitals of the two countries are connected by direct flights.

    https://www.timesca.com/index.php/news/19668-business-forum-france-kazakhstan-held-in-astana

    Kazakh, Chinese ministries of finance to sign co-op memorandum en.trend.az, 1.05.2018

    Minister of Finance of Kazakhstan Bakhyt Sultanov and China's Finance Minister Liu Kun agreed to conclude an inter-agency memorandum of understanding and cooperation in the near future, during the meeting, organized within the framework of Sultanov's working visit to Beijing, the press service of the Ministry of Finance of Kazakhstan said in a message.

    Kazakh minister stressed that the two countries expand investment cooperation, attract loans for the integration of the Chinese "One Belt One Road Initiative" and Kazakhstan’s Nurly Zhol program.

    The parties also discussed the current economic situation of the two countries, the expansion of cooperation, as well as the activities of financial markets and their services, including the Astana International Finance Centre. During the visit to Beijing, Sultanov also held talks with the Chairman of the Securities Regulatory Commission of China, the Chief Customs Officer of China and Vice President of Exim Bank of China.

    https://en.trend.az/business/economy/2896311.html


  • 04 May 2018 1:00 PM | Alexander Belyasov (Administrator)

    Alinga Consulting invites you to participate in a free seminar on May 23, 2018. The seminar will include the latest changes in the tax and currency legislation. Alinga Consulting experts will inform you about the progress on the program of the development of federal standards for 2017 - 2019 and will tell how to prepare for the transition to new standards. Lawyers of our company will discuss about future changes in the rules of using corporate transport. A complete description is available on Alinga’s website at http://www.acg.ru/seminar_may_2018_eng. Registration is open, but seating is limited.


  • 01 May 2018 10:56 AM | Bakytzhamal Jetmekova

    ASTANA – The former President of France and the former Secretary-General of the United Nations and other international thought leaders will gather in Astana May 17-19 for the 11th Astana Economic Forum (AEF). The name of the forum is being changed this year to the Global Challenges Summit (GCS) 2018, says a press release by AEF organisers.

    Former Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon, Chairman of the International Olympic Committee’s Ethics Commission Hans Timmer, Chief Economist for the Europe and Central Asian region of the World Bank and former French President Francois Hollande are among those who will participate. Other participants will include leaders in the worlds of business, science and art who will look at current global risks and opportunities.

    The technological revolution of recent years has created world-changing megatrends affecting countries, businesses and the world’s population. Economic growth and resource resilience, digitisation and urbanisation, longevity and financial revolution, global security and cultural shift will be among the summit’s topics.

    The summit will include more than 200 speakers from more than 27 countries to debate the world’s most important challenges and discuss solutions to create a safer and more sustainable planet. Participants will also include Michio Kaku, physicist, co-founder of the string field theory and populariser of science, Jim O’Neill, former Goldman Sachs chief economist known for coining the BRIC acronym, Parag Khanna, international relations expert and visionary strategist of urban development, Mikheil Janelidze, Georgia’s Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Toomas Ilves, Estonia’s former president, Krzysztof Zanussi, film director and winner of the Golden Lion, the highest prize of the Venice Film Festival and others.

    Kazakhstan’s senior executive officials and heads of state-owned companies and development agencies will participate in the discussion on the country’s strategies for adapting to the rapidly changing world and its role in developing the Central Asia region.

    GCS 2018 follows Astana’sEXPO 2017 with its subject of Future Energy, which provided the backdrop for Kazakhstan to announce its large-scale Third Modernisation aimed at pushing the country into the top 30 of the world’s strongest economies by means of breakthroughs in innovative development, institutional reforms and extensive international integration.

    The Astana Economic Forum will be held at the EXPO Congress Centre and Hilton Astana.

    We need more livestock, says Kazakh agriculture vice minister Astana Times, 26 April 2018

    ASTANA – Kazakhstan needs to increase its livestock population, according to First Vice Minister of Agriculture Arman Yevniyev. The ministry expects the new cattle farming development programme will raise the population from seven million to 15 million heads.

    First Vice Minister of Agriculture Arman Yevniyev. Photo credit: Agriculture Ministry press service

    He noted cattle farming is a “most optimal element” for agricultural production due to its relatively low cost and high quality, and the 10-year programme seeks to capitalise on these advantages.

    Possessing vast grasslands and ranking fifth in the world with more than 180 million hectares of pastures, livestock has been a key component of Kazakh agriculture as well as a source of income and employment for the rural population which accounts for roughly half of the nation’s total population.

    The new development programme addresses acute issues in the field, said Yevniyev.

    “We see a big potential for livestock development. The country has all the resources to develop the sector,” he added. “The infrastructure is there, but we need to increase the livestock.”

    The programme is meant to create a “new class of farmers” by growing the number of farms from 20,000 to 100,000 and raising rural employment from 100,000 to 500,000. With poverty in rural areas (4.9 percent) almost four times higher than in urban areas (1.3 percent), additional employment opportunities are of paramount importance.

    Export revenues are forecast to reach $2.4 billion, he added.

    Large meat industry companies, including Australian Cedar Group, Chinese Rifa Holding, Citic Group and Inalca Eurasia, will be investing in the programme. Developing cattle farming comes with certain challenges, however, including the search for money and land.

    “The first challenge for farmers that are thinking about starting their business is where to get money.

    There is no money [easily available]. The programme addresses this issue,” said Yevniyev.

    KazAgro, the leading Kazakh leasing company with a more than 70-percent share, will provide 15-year loans to farmers at a subsidised 4-percent interest rate. The funds can be used to purchase stock for further breeding and agriculture machinery and equipment or construct livestock housing.

    Approximately 50 billion tenge (US$152.2 million) will be allocated to support farmers this year, said KazAgro Board Chair Nurlybek Malelov.

    “There was no such thing before. The second question is where to get land. The programme has an answer to this question as well. Comprehensive work is being done. All the recent changes provide a mechanism to confiscate pastures and give them to those who need this,” he noted.

    Pastures will be given without competition.

    “We were reviewing the regions and some farms were found to be possessing hundreds or more than a million hectares and it is clear there is no livestock. This will be equal to irrational use of lands and will be subject to confiscation,” said Yevniyev.

    More specialists are needed, he added, as “lack of competency and knowledge” is hampering development.

    “With the National Chamber of Entrepreneurs, we run the Bastau Business (Start Business) programme funded by the national budget, where anyone willing to take up the business can learn how to work with livestock and other specifics,” he added.

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