World Monitor Magazine, Business and Investments WM_march 2019_web - Page 24

DESTINATION europe EU and Kazakhstan: long-term partnership and perspectives The European Union is one of the key investors to Kazakhstan. We in WM have talked to EU Ambassador to Kazakhstan His Excellency Sven-Olov Carlsson to know more about the investment plans and strategic cooperation. Sven-Olov Carlsson, Ambassador, Head of the EU delegation to the Republic of Kazakhstan, EUROBAK Honorary Board Member In the investment plan, for the first half of 2018, $ 12.3 billion was attracted to the Kazakhstani economy, which is 15% higher compared to the same period in 2017 (in 2017, $ 9.8 billion). What are your ideas with regard to the strengthening of investment and export directions of Kazakhstan- European relations? We all know the progress made by Kazakhstan according to most international indexes and the steps taken to improve the investment climate. Still, the perceptions of investors have not necessarily changed at the same rate, and perceptions are realities when it comes to making investment decisions, especially in sectors more exposed to risk. Certainly these are encouraging figures. What I also note of the most recent investment data is that the investment originating from the EU to Kazakhstan remains very substantial, both in terms of the accumulated investment (or ‘stocks’) and in terms of annual flows. According to the National Bank of Kazakhstan data in 2018 the EU has invested in the country several times more than China (or Russia) – a reality to be borne in mind and a solid basis when considering the potential for further cooperation. A lot remains to be done in terms of removing non-tariff barriers, most notably in the agro-food sector, and to improve the application of sanitary and phytosanitary controls, approval of export companies, to name just two obstacles that do not necessarily need big political decisions, but better communication and streamlined administrative procedures. We have proposed, for example, to set- up a common working group between the European Commission and Kazakhstan to solve in a practical way outstanding issues in the agricultural sector. We look forward to a positive reply from the authorities. At the same time, what is more worrying for the prospects of economic diversification is the continuing concentration of investment in the extractive sector. The same applies to Kazakhstan’s exports towards the EU, which while growing are still to 90 per cent concentrated on energy, metals and minerals. In my view we need to inject more dynamism to strengthen our economic relations. This starts from determination in implementing structural changes. 22 world monitor Beyond technical cooperation however, reducing the State footprint in the economy to OECD-levels is crucial, by introducing new management practices and opening up more room for the private sector to operate. We have followed with interest the progress of involving investors and management know-how in major state- owned enterprises through international public offerings: the sale of Kazatomprom’s