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Kazachstan: concurrentievermogen vergroten

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photo_50227Met de introductie van een drijvende koers tenge en het bevriezen van al zijn projectinitiatieven tot 2018 is Kazachstan de a zware strijd om het concurrentievermogen met de twee buurlanden, Rusland en China, maar ondanks de ontberingen voor de bevolking is er duidelijk sprake van een toenameING de aantrekkelijkheid ervan voor Europese investeerders, die al een bijzondere relatie hebben opgebouwd met dit toonaangevende Centraal-Aziatische land. Deze verandering in het financiële beleid zal niet-oliegerelateerde industrieën bevoordelen en de broodnodige diversificatie van de economie stimuleren, wat gunstig zal zijn voor Kazachstan, dat te afhankelijk is van de olie-export.

The change of financial policy did not come as a surprise – being engaged with both Russian and Chinese economies, the Kazakh overheid did not have an alternative but to follow the path of its neighbours, both of which are active in the devaluation of their currencies, the rouble and yuan. Moreover, having Iran return to the world oil market, one can expect further drop in oil prices, which sustains more than half of Kazakhstan’s export. Subsequently, President Nursultan Nazarbayev has suggested to revise the development agenda, based on possible oil prices of $30-40.

However, this sharp turn opens numerous possibilities for investors in non-oil industries, such as mining, especially in view of the further globalization of the country’s economy – by the end of this year, Astana plans to join the World Trade Organization (WTO), which will attract direct foreign investments (FDI). Up to now, the government has excelled in creating a stable and favourable climate for businesses, including those from Europe. According to World Bank estimates, in conditions for business, Kazakhstan has overplayed China at 77th in the world, while Beijing took 90th. Designed for investors, the Kaznex Invest agency is responsible for communication between foreigners and Kazakh institutions and national companies to offer opportunities of working in different formats, including regional. Starting with a visa-free regime for a number of key European partners, with the Netherlands and France in the first ranks, and continuing to introduce tax advantages and legal protection equal with national investors, the Kazakh government has succeeded in increasing foreign direct investment as the previous year’s statistics show, in spite of a general FDI decrease in Central Asia. Up to recently,  the oil and mining industries were the leaders in attracting foreign currency flows, however the new disposition promises to primarily favour mining.

From January 2015, mining has been leading in drawing FDI and its rapid growth. The transport sector has also showed much vitality – Kazakhstan’s geography opens unique opportunities for multiple transport corridors, connecting Europe and Asia, in particular the New Silk Road, which ensures the reduction in the time taken to exchange goods between Shanghai and Berlin to two weeks.

These factors remain the key elements for investors’ continuing interest, however it is the stability that overwhelms the other factors – through multiculturalism and well balanced linguistic policy, Kazakhstan remains the only country in the post-Soviet arena to avoid ethnic conflicts. Corruption, however, is a real plague on the economy, undermining many promising endeavours. Conscious about its dramatic consequences for the economy, the political leadership has updated its laws and launched an anti-corruption strategy for 2015-2025, with a special emphasis on the digital economy, increasing the transparency of bureaucracy and the financial system. These anti-corruption policies are included in the EU-Kazakhstan co-operation agreement, which underlines the significance of the well being of this country for Europe.

Het nieuwe financiële beleid zal geen invloed hebben op het bestaande raamwerk en de EU zal blijven samenwerken met Kazachstan binnen het raamwerk van het in 2014 goedgekeurde versterkte partnerschap, dat betrekking heeft op meer dan dertig gebieden en beleidsmaatregelen.

In tegenstelling tot veel andere spelers, waaronder enkele lidstaten, heeft Kazachstan opmerkelijk lage schuldenniveaus. een van de laagste ter wereld sommige deskundigen zeggen:  slechts 12% van het bbp, waardoor het zijn toekomstige inspanningen met echt optimisme kan ondernemen.

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