DESTINATION europe same. Producing, transferring, storing and using energy in a sustainable way requires entering a new phase of technological development of the world economy, and 'Astana EXPO 2017' has taken the precise task to gather the best developments in respective fields. But, it is our hope that, besides exhibiting some of the latest scientific and technical achievements, this major event will also mark a call to all relevant key players as governmental bodies, business entities and individuals for a deeper reflection on their responsibility to ensure that energy is well managed for generations. Because one of the most important human activities in the future will to remain fully respectful towards the wellbeing of all people and all nature on our planet. The new Partnership and Cooperation agreement between EU and Kazakhstan was signed in 2015. It opened another era of partnership between the two states. From your point of view, what are the main aspects of this agreement? Indeed, the Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement, which we refer to as EPCA, encompasses all aspects of EU-Kazakhstan cooperation and is marked as a new milestone of the mutually beneficial and strong partnership between the EU and Kazakhstan. Being the so-called 'second generation' agreement, the EPCA provides a modern, comprehensive and dynamic framework for cooperation. And Kazakhstan is the only country in Central Asia with which such an agreement was signed. It also provides a stable legal framework with an important EU partner in light of the growing security challenges and turbulence. This new agreement has been ratified by the Parliament of Kazakhstan and pending the ratification by the EU side, 12 world monitor which according to the EU procedures, will take some time as it needs to be ratified in all 28 member states and by the European Parliament. So far, the EPCA is already ratified by nine EU member states out of 28. However, since 1st May 2016 the provisional implementation of the main articles of the EPCA was launched, which already allows us to benefit from the new legal framework.The EPCA will enhance concrete cooperation in some other 29 key policy areas, including the sectors of economic and financial cooperation, energy, transport, environment and climate change, employment and social affairs, culture, education and research. What does it offer to businesses and citizens of the countries involved? This agreement is very timely, as it reflects the current trends in bilateral cooperation. As you know, the EU has become – and remains – the main trade and investment partner of Kazakhstan. In 2016 more than a third (39%) of Kazakhstan’s foreign trade was with EU countries and over half of the total FDI stock in Kazakhstan is EU investment. The benefits for Kazakhstan's business and ultimately for its citizens are expected to be a boost for EU- Kazakhstan trade and economic relations and for the country's economic diversification, as well as to its investment climate. The advantages are better protection of consumers, more business opportunities for small and medium enterprises, stimulating employment, more efficient use of energy and the development of renewable energy sources, reliable business environment, agriculture and rural development. Amongst the areas that go beyond those already covered by Kazakhstan's commitments towards the WTO are those addressing trade-in services, facilitating the establishment and operation of companies, freeing capital movements, opening up government procurement and protection of intellectual property rights. I'd like to recall that following the first meeting of the EU-Kazakhstan subcommittee on customs recently, the agreement reached to host the visit of Kazakhstani delegation from the State Revenues Committee to Rotterdam Port customs for best practices sharing. What is important to underline is that the EPCA trade and business aspects need to be fully implemented. For this, it is necessary to evaluate the gaps and obstacles that we should overcome to garner the full benefits of the agreement. To this end we have launched an in-depth study on the trade chapters of the EPCA, which was launched recently, on 29th March 2017. The study will bring about a better understanding on how to adjust trade-related legislation, administrative and judicial practices and individuate in detail the opportunities for companies in a wide range of economic sectors, including, to name a few, agro-food industry (such as dairies) and services, like transport and tourism. Also, technology transfer in innovative sectors of the economy will take advantage of easier investment conditions and cross-border opportunities on the two sides. I take this opportunity to invite you to this event in Almaty in the end of June, where experts will illustrate and discuss in depth the EPCA trade-related opportunities with the private sector, in collaboration with EUROBAK.