Business News in Brief

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is ready to assist in financing innovation projects of small and medium-sized businesses in Kazakhstan, bank head Sir Suma Chakrabarti told a plenary session of the Council of Foreign Investors under the President of Kazakhstan on May 22. “After restructuring the largest banks in Kazakhstan, the system is now on the way to recovery. Nevertheless, the level of non-performing loans remains high. This limits the ability of banks to provide loans for innovation projects. Especially often, a shortage of credit is faced by small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs). EBRD is ready to provide assistance in the management of SMEs’ credit risks,” Chakrabarti said. In particular, he said that the bank was considering the opportunity of implementing a project to improve Internet infrastructure in Kazakhstan. “Throughout the world, access to mobile and broadband technology is changing the face of business. These technologies are also very important in closing the gap between town and country and providing access to a global network regardless of location. Therefore, EBRD is now studying the possible implementation of a joint project with JSC Kazakhtelecom to improve access to the Internet in Kazakhstan,” Chakrabarti noted. According to him, the successful introduction of innovations in the economy depends on the development of human capital, project financing, favourable business environments and the state of infrastructure.

On May 22, Kazakhstan Temir Zholy (KTZ) (the country’s state railways) and the Estonian AS Vopak E.O.S. Company signed a contract for the acquisition of 15 TE33A locomotives made in Kazakhstan. The document was signed by President of KTZ Askar Mamin and Chairman of the Board of AS Vopak E.O.S. Ltd. Arnaut Lugtmeyer. The signing ceremony was held in the presence of Minister of Economics and Communications of Estonia Yukhan Parts and President of General Electric Transportation Lorenzo Simonelli. In his welcoming speech, Yukhan Parts emphasised the importance of bilateral cooperation and expressed the hope for further cooperation between the two countries. In his speech, Mamin said Estonia was an important partner for Kazakhstan in trade and economic relations and the signing of the contract was clear proof of a fruitful relationship. Negotiations between KTZ and AS Vopak EOS Ltd., which is the largest independent terminal operator in the Baltic States, began in 2010. In December 2011, the Kazakh side provided TE33A 0080 locomotives for rent and for operational testing on Estonia’s railways. The tests lasted five months. After the tests and the analysis of competitive locomotive models from other manufacturers, the Estonian side purchased the locomotives manufactured in Kazakhstan.

On May 23, as part of the Sixth Astana Economic Forum, LLP Kazcentrelectroprovod and the Austrian Frausсher Sensorteсhnik GmbH Company with the support of the Kaznex Invest, the government agency responsible for promoting non-resource exports and attracting more foreign investment to Kazakhstan, signed an agreement on investment cooperation. Frausсher Sensorteсhnik GmbH works to facilitate high quality production in the field of inductive sensory technologies. The company plans to invest more than one million dollars to localise the production of the axles counting system in Kazakhstan. It also plans to train Kazakh specialists and organise the transfer of technologies. The signed agreement is a continuation of the cooperation between the Frausсher Sensorteсhnik GmbH Company and the Kaznex Invest Agency that commenced during the visit of President Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan to Austria in October 2012.

Kazakhstan’s wheat exports fell by 72 percent in the first quarter of this year compared to the same period in 2012. Wheat shipments from Kazakhstan, the world’s eighth-largest exporter, totalled 628,000 tons in the first three months of this year, compared with 2.22 million tons in the corresponding period last year, according to customs data.