Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev participated in the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on Jan. 22-23 and called the gathering a useful platform for the exchange of opinions on global economic issues and global development.
“The Davos forum is a place where you have an intense schedule of meetings, as it gathers a large number of heads of state, leaders of international organizations and large businesses. After [Kazakhstan regained] independence, I have often visited the forum because our country was little known to the world. The aim of the visits was to speak to and attract investors to the young republic. As you are aware, it was this place where the establishment of the Foreign Investors Council was initiated. Today, as we have adopted Strategy 2050 and established the goal of entering the group of the top 30 developed countries, there is a need to tell forum participants about this programme,” the President told the Kazakh media after the event as reported by his press service.
In Davos, President Nazarbayev had meetings with current and former heads of state, leaders of international organizations and multinational corporations. He also met the forum’s hosts, President of the Swiss Confederation Didier Burkhalter and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum Klaus Schwab.
During the meeting with Burkhalter, Nazarbayev discussed key areas of Kazakh-Swiss relations, prospects for further development, as well as issues of global and regional security. Nazarbayev stressed that Switzerland is considered one of Kazakhstan’s main trading partners in Europe. More than 400 Swiss-Kazakh companies, including such major ones as Algroup, Rieter и Glencore, operate in Kazakhstan. The parties also discussed strengthening the work of the Kazakhstan-Swiss Intergovernmental Committee on Trade and Economic Cooperation.
The Kazakh President also met former British Prime Minister Tony Blair. International issues, including the situation in the Middle East and Central Asia were discussed during the meeting. Nazarbayev and Blair also talked about Kazakhstan’s Strategy 2050 and issues related to its implementation.
The actions necessary to implement Strategy 2050 were also discussed with the presidents of international development institutions. During a meeting with Sir Suma Chakrabarti, president of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the parties discussed mechanisms of the bank’s support for domestic and foreign investments in Kazakhstan.
“EBRD has already invested US$6.5 billion in Kazakhstan. During our meeting, I expressed my wish that more attention be paid to supporting the development of small and medium-sized businesses,” Nazarbayev said after the meeting. The sides reviewed a number of prospective projects aimed at developing Kazakhstan’s infrastructure, in particular the bank’s support for financing Almaty’s urban transport programme.
In turn, Chakrabarti expressed EBRD’s interest in increasing its investment operations in Kazakhstan. Moreover, he emphasised EBRD’s active participation in implementing key aspects of Kazakhstan’s Green Economy Strategy through more than 50 percent of all projects.
Nazarbayev also discussed the country’s development programme during a meeting with Roberto Azevedo, director general of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
They discussed the process of Kazakhstan’s accession to the WTO and expressed confidence that continued dialogue would resolve issues related to Kazakhstan’s accession.
A meeting with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso also contributed to the discussion of international economic cooperation. Nazarbayev and Barroso talked about prospects for strengthening trade and investment cooperation and stressed the importance of the work being done within the framework of the EU Strategy in Central Asia. The parties also focused on efforts to sign a new Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement between Kazakhstan and the European Union to replace the one from 1999. Nazarbayev and Barroso also discussed the activities of the Customs Union and prospects for the Eurasian Economic Union.
While in Davos, President Nazarbayev also met with business executives. During his meeting with President of Total Christophe de Margerie, the company’s activities in Kazakhstan and its participation in projects implemented under the North Caspian Sea Production Sharing Agreement were discussed. The parties emphasised the dynamic development of Kazakhstan’s oil and gas sector due to the state policy of attracting foreign investments and new technologies. The President of Kazakhstan underlined the importance of human capital development and a focus on the socio-economic development of the country.
“I had meetings with the heads of the companies operating in Kazakhstan. We discussed prospects for their further activities in our country. The main goal is to encourage multinationals to establish their servicing companies in our country. This issue is related to the industrialisation of Kazakhstan. My counterparts underscored the importance of our determination to develop infrastructure: construct roads and railways, ports, airports for further development of our country. In this context, our meetings have been very significant,” the President said.
Another business-related dialogue was held with Chairman and CEO of ArcelorMittal Lakshmi Mittal. Nazarbayev and Mittal reviewed aspects of the company’s participation in the development of the metallurgical sector of Kazakhstan, as well as activities of ArcelorMittal Temirtau Company and implementation of various investment and social projects. One of the more timely issues on the agenda for this meeting was the importance of keeping the company’s obligations regarding maintaining its workforce at stable levels.
Overall, President Nazarbayev praised the international event. In subsequent comments to the media he called the WEF a good platform for meeting old partners and making new acquaintances.
“The leaders of other countries are interested in my opinion regarding the current situation and perspective development of our region. A general concern exists regarding Iran’s nuclear programme, the resolution of the situation in Afghanistan, Syria and recent events in Ukraine. However, the exchange of opinions brings up useful proposals and solutions. The forum is not a managing body, but rather suggests possible ways to resolve various difficult situations,” Nazarbayev said.