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20th Year of a Promising Cooperation and Development Story

Kazakhstan,having declared its independence on December 16, 1991, is a fast developing
country in its region. The years following independence have been marked by significant
reforms to the Soviet-style economy. Under Nursultan Nazarbayev, who initially
came to power in 1989, Kazakhstan has made significant progress toward
developing a market economy. The country has enjoyed significant economic
growth since 2000, partly with the help of its large oil, gas, and mineral
reserves.

The central Asian country at the crossroads between East and West, in many senses, makes up
an exemplary case for many developing countries in the region. This is obvious,
but we rarely hear about Kazakhstan in Norway. Ahmedov made this point and then
described his country’s inspiring development brought about
through ambitious projects.

Adil Ahmedov
is one of 15 nominated senators of the Kazakhstan parliament and the first
ambassador of the country to Norway. In 2001 during Bondevik’s government,
he was one of the witnesses to the historical official visit to
Norway. He describes that visit as an impulse for instigating an active and
good relationship between the two countries. After a series of diplomatic
meetings by president Nazarbayev with the Norwegian King Harald V, Stortinget
president and prime minister, the relationship has developed very dynamically
from education to energy, notes Ahmedov.

Kazak Oil Fund
Based on Norwegian Model

Another
historical outcome of the visit for Kazakhstan was the creation of the
country’s oil fund based on the Norwegian model.

-During the
financial crisis, this fund helped us a lot. It let us tackle the crisis
without having problems just like Norway, says Ahmedov.

The
similarities between Norway and Kazakhstan are not limited to this fund and
rich oil reserves, according to Mr. Ahmedov. He says the two countries share a
lot of commonalities from peace to energy security. He reminds us that
Kazakhistan is the first country which shut down its nuclear stations as a part
of the emphasis on energy security. He thinks this exemplary action is an
important signal for other countries, like Norway, seeking a nuclear-free
future.

Thanks to thisimportant
experience, Kazakhistan is invited to important meetings on nuclear issues. For
example, in 2010 Nazarbayev was invited by President Obama to an anti-nuclear
summit in Seoul. On the other hand, Mr. Ahmedov remarks that Kazakhstan is also
very rich in uranium resources andexports uranium to countries such as France
and China. However his country prefers using alternative sources of
energy.

He believes
global terrorism and environmental challenges will push the other countries to
give up nuclear energy solutions.

–         Beside the
environmental issues, widespread terrorism challenges the idea of having
nuclear energy because they can simply blow up a nuclear station to make people
suffer. While the use of nuclear energy is expanding,
the sites become potential targets for terroriststhereby posing threats
to national and international security; even if those energy
solutions are being utilised for peaceful means, he says.

Dialogue and
Multiculturalism are not Mistake

Speaking of
terrorism, Mr. Ahmedov expresses his discontent about the debates on terrorism,
and diversity.

–         
There is no
mono-ethnic country in the world. Some European countries like France , the UK
and Germany are talking as if multiculturalism was a mistake. But the problem
is not the multiculturalism itself but being unable to propagate the common
grounds. The religious leaders and politicians should take the lead to combat
the hatred, they should be more careful about their actions and
statements, he says.

In the frame of this call to religious and
political leaders of the world, Kazakhstan holds a Congress of the leaders of
the world and traditional religions every year, reminds Ahmedov. He notes that
87 delegates from 47 countries participated in this year’s forum in
Astana. At the end of our interview,  he praised Norway’s
effort in this field and emphasized the need to increase the level of
dialogue to prevent new Breiviks.

About
Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan declared itself an independent country on December 16, 1991,
the last Soviet republic to do so. Nursultan Nazarbayev became the country’s
first president, a position he retains today. Since independence, Kazakhstan
has pursued a balanced foreign policy and worked to develop its economy,
especially its hydrocarbon industry. The post-Soviet era has also been
characterized by increased involvement with many international organizations,
including the United Nations, the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, the
Commonwealth of Independent States, and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.
Kazakhstan is also one of six post-Soviet states who have implemented an
Individual Partnership Action Plan with NATO.

Kazakhstan is ethnically and culturally diverse, in part due to mass
deportations of many ethnic groups to the country during Joseph Stalin’s rule.
Kazakhstan has a population of 16.6 million, with 131 ethnicities, including
Kazakh, Russian, Ukrainian, German, Uzbek, Tatar, and Uyghur. Around 63%
percent of the population are Kazakhs. Islam is the religion of about 70.2%
while Christianity is practiced by 26.2% of the population. The Kazakh language
is the state language, while Russian is also officially used as an equal
language to Kazakh in Kazakhstan’s public institutions.

What does
Kazakhstan promise investors and businesses?

Kazakhstan is among the top 20 countries which are
most attractive for foreign investment. In the post-Soviet space we are
certainly number one in attracting FDI.

In the last 15 years our country has attracted 150 billion dollars US
of foreign direct investments (FDI). This is the highest FDI per capita rate in
the region. Foreign investments are now received not only by traditional
extractive industries. More and more of partners are looking towards other
sectors of the economy. And the country has examples of successful investors
such as General Electric (production of railroad locomotives), Tele2 and
TeliaSonera (mobile communications), ArcelorMittal (steel production), EuroChem
(fertilizers) and many others.

According to the latest World Bank’s, Doing Business, report Kazakhstan
has moved up 15 places in just one year showing strong progress in protecting
investors, paying taxes and it entered the best 50 economies for doing
business. In 2011 the World Bank named Kazakhstan the world’s #1 business
regulation reformer.

2012 World
Bank’s “Ease of Doing Business” rankings

Kazakhstan and
Norway are to promote bilateral investments

Both of the governments of Kazakhstan and Norway recognize the existing
potential and are determined to stimulate business activities. The two countries
have enjoyed twenty years of a growing partnership. During the most recent
visit by a Norwegian delegation to Astana headed by State Secretary Torgeir
Larsen the countries have agreed to set up a special mechanism to assist
ongoing economic cooperation.

Promising
Sectors of the Country

Traditionally, Kazakhstan has a developed energy sector, specifically –
oil and gas.

Norwegian service and engineering companies, such as Aker Solutions,
Kvaerner, Aibel, Kaefer, have been present in Kazakhstan for quite some time
assisting big oil corporations in developing fields in our country.

In 2010, two national companies «KazMunaiGaz» and «Statoil» decided to
establish a strategic partnership to work together on the shelf of the Caspian
Sea. Currently, the two sides are in the final stages of negotiations and their
partnership serve as a catalyst for other Kazakh and Norwegian
companies to establish joint business ventures in this or other
sectors.

The country is also aware of that Norway has great experience in
metallurgy, machinery, food processing and other industries. In each of these
sectors they are improving the cooperation.

The mineral and resources base of the Republic of Kazakhstan consists
of 5,004 fields, with an estimated cost around USD 46 trillion. Around 99 elements
have been discovered, 70 elements explored, 60 are being recovered and used in
Kazakhstan’s soil out of 110 elements of D.I.Mendeleyev’s periodic table, they
are: oil, gas, uranium, zinc, tungsten, barium, silver, lead, chrome,
copper, fluorites, molybdenum, and gold.

A Key Role in global food security

Kazakhstan is a large agricultural producer playing a significant role
in global food security.  The country is among
the Top 5 exporters of wheat and wheat flour. Kazak farmers supply grain to all
of Central Asia, Caucasus, much of Northern Africa and the Middle East. Their
export to Norway have also risen from 3,000 tons in 2009 to 43,000 in 2011.

There is also potential in the production of milk, meat and poultry in
Kazakhstan. These industries are now in the development stage which creates
unique opportunities for Norwegian food producing companies to establish
themselves in Kazakhstan and benefit from a comfortable business environment
while having direct access and close proximity to the large markets of China,
Russia, Central and South Asia – with a total population of 2 billion
people.

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