Economy News in Brief

The Samruk Kazyna National Welfare Fund is considering launching 83 new investment projects worth $51.7 billion, the fund’s managing director Berik Beisengaliyev told a meeting discussing investment results for 2012 and plans for 2013 on April 17. “Today the investment portfolio of the fund includes 100 projects worth $81 billion and, 27 projects that have been completed and are operating for the national economy. Another 73 projects worth $71 billion are in progress and plans for another 83 projects worth $51.7 billion are being worked out,” he said. Samruk Kazyna is looking at projects with high growth potential in alternative energy, chemicals and petrochemicals, transportation, infrastructure, engineering, and IT. In 2012, the Moinak power plant with a capacity of 300 MW entered service and generated 1 billion kW/h of electricity that solved the problem of energy shortage in the southern regions of Kazakhstan, Beisengaliyev said. “We are also constructing a sulfuric acid plant in Stepnogorsk, an oil refinery in Astana and the Balkhash thermal power plant,” he said.

The government will impose restrictions on oil imports from Russia by Jan. 1, 2014, Oil and Gas Minister Sauat Mynbaev told the Mazhilis, the lower house of Parliament, on April 22. Mynbaev said the restrictions would be applied under the existing agreement with Russia on the oil trade. “If we do not take this action, the country will be flooded by imports of Russian oil this year. We should instead export it abroad,” he said. The minister said that currently Kazakhstan’s own oil refineries were not operating at maximum capacity because of the large quantity of imported petroleum products in the domestic market.

Egypt, the world’s largest wheat buyer, will consider resuming imports of grain from Kazakhstan, the state-run Middle East News Agency (MENA) reported on April 11. Reda Aggag, an advisor to Supply Minister Bassem Oda met with Kazakh officials to discuss new purchases, MENA said. Egypt, the Arab world’s most populous nation, has not imported any grain from Kazakhstan since 2009-10, when it bought 180,000 metric tons, according to Nomani Nomani, an adviser to the minister and former head of Egypt’s General Authority for Supply Commodities. In 2011, Egypt refused to accept four cargoes of Kazakh wheat because of the high proportion of damaged grain in them and replaced them with Russian grain, Nomani said. Kazakh wheat imports will only resume if Kazakhstan resolves that problem, he said.

On April 15, the Dubai-based port operator DP World signed a deal with a visiting government delegation from Kazakhstan to develop the Khorgos-Eastern Gates Special Economic Zone and Aktau Port. The agreement was signed by the Chairman of Kazakhstan Temir Zholy-Kazakhstan State Railways (KTZ) Askar Mamin and the Chairman of DP World Mohammed Sharaf on April 15 during the visit of Kazakhstan’s government delegation led by deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Industry and New Technologies (MINT) Asset Issekeshev to the United Arab Emirates. DP World will administer the Jebel Ali port and the Khorgos-Eastern Gates Special Economic Zone to make it the largest logistics centre of Eurasia. According to industry estimates, a project of this level would necessitate at least AED 3.67 billion ($1 billion) worth of investment. The UAE is already committed to investing more than AED 7.34 billion ($2 billion) in Kazakhstan, which is advantageously positioned between China and the European markets. Abu Dhabi-based Aldar Properties is constructing the Abu Dhabi Plaza Complex worth AED 6.24 billion ($1.7 billion) projects in Astana, with the tallest building in Central Asia, a shopping centre and a winter garden. Moreover, the UAE and Kazakhstan have jointly established the Kazakh-Emirati private equity fund Al-Falah with a registered capital of AED 3.67 billion ($1 billion). According to the Kazakh embassy in the UAE, the trade balance between the two countries stood at AED 1.47 billion ($400 million) in 2012 and is expected to grow this year.

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