Report by Dr Shahid Qureshi – :
Fourth session of UK-Kazakhstan Intergovernmental Commission (IGC) and the second session of Business Council held in London.The meeting focused on developing co-operation in the areas of trade and investment; aviation; financial services; oil and gas; subsoil use; mining; education; and science and technology.
In opening the meeting, Mark Garnier – UK Minister for Investment at the Department for International Trade, and co-chair of the IGC – noted the solid nature of Kazakh-British relations. London and Astana have successfully developed co-operation across many areas, including: oil and mining; energy; metallurgy; the financial sector; and education. As a global financial leader, London has made a significant contribution to the formation and development of the Astana International Financial Center (AIFC). The AIFC will be based on the principles of English law.
Mr Garnier said that ongoing reforms in Kazakhstan – including implementing a programme for privatizing state assets – have been critical to attracting investment from the UK and around the world. The UK is prepared to increase its investment, while promoting the digitisation of Kazakhstan’s economy, the adoption of new technologies, and green energy. Concluding his presentation, Mr Garnier invited Kazakh companies to participate in the International Business Festival (IBF), which will be held in Liverpool next June.
Mr Zhenis Kassymbek – Kazakhstan’s Minister for Investment and Development and co-chair of the IGC – emphasized the UK’s role as an important strategic partner to Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan is interested in advanced British technology, which could assist in implementing the nation’s industrial and innovative programme. According to Mr Kassymbek, education has the potential of becoming an important area of bilateral co-operation. He noted existing co-operation in oil and gas, chemical industries, machine building, metallurgy, and civil aviation. Kazakhstan hopes to train its students at British universities, which are regarded as some of the best in the world. Obtaining a high-quality education for its students, especially in technical areas, is an important priority for Kazakhstan.
In his speech to the IGC, Ambassador Erlan Idrissov highlighted reforms in Kazakhstan aimed at modernising the economy and developing high-tech industries. As of 2018, the AIFC will commence its activities, thereby creating favourable conditions for foreign investors. Ambassador Idrissov stressed that Britain’s experience and investments will play an important role in implementing these reforms.
Working groups on oil and gas and subsoil use were held at the second meeting of the Kazakh-British Business Council (KBBC). Baljeet Grewal – Managing Director of Samruk-Kazyna National Welfare Fund and co-chair of this session of the KBBC – presented UK companies with investment opportunities in Kazakhstan. She also introduced participants to the nation’s privatisation programme. Ms Grewal urged British businesses to actively participate in the privatisation of Kazakhstan’s state-owned companies.
Baroness Emma Nicholson – the UK Trade Envoy to Kazakhstan and co-chair of the KBBC – said the council was an important institution for promoting bilateral business relations. Baroness Nicholson added that the UK is looking forward to strengthening its mutually beneficial co-operation with Kazakhstan, especially in the areas of trade and investment.
During the ‘Transformation and digitalisation – new business horizons in Kazakhstan’ panel session, presentations were delivered by the heads of Kazakhtelecom, Kazpost, Kazakhstan Temir Zholy, NAC Kazatomprom, and Air Astana. The speakers discussed the competitive advantages of Kazakh companies at both the regional and global level, and presented future plans for business development.
Following the IGC meeting, a promising direction for co-operation between Kazakhstan and the UK was identified. Primarily, the two countries will focus on innovation and technology, subsoil use, vocational education, nuclear power, and PPP projects.
As part of the IGC, Mr Kassymbek held bilateral meetings with Mr Garnier and the heads of a number of major British companies.
Following the IGC, the Protocol of the Fourth meeting of the Kazakh-British Intergovernmental Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientific, Technical and Cultural Co-operation; Partnership agreement between Denholm Group and BKKS; R&D service agreement between Metalysis Limited and Autonomous Cluster Fund Park of Innovative Technology, as well as Memorandum of Co-operation between IntelliSense, Autonomous Cluster Fund Park of Innovative Technologies, and Altynalmas and on smart monitoring and optimisation centre were signed.