ATYRAU – A number of business activities, including a technology conference and exhibitions of achievements in the oil and gas and construction industries, were held within the Atyrau Invest 2014 Forum in this western Kazakhstan city on April 1-3.
The oil-rich western region offers great opportunities for investors and entrepreneurs. The development of the large Tengiz and Kashagan oil and gas condensate fields in the last few years has given foreign partners an opportunity to examine the conditions of doing business in Kazakhstan.
Kazakhstan’s investment climate has been ranked more and more favourable over recent years, and President Nursultan Nazarbayev set the task of increasing investment volume from the current 18 percent to 30 percent of the total gross domestic product in his most recent state-of-the-nation address.
In that address, the President called increasing investment one of the main components of the economic growth that will facilitate Kazakhstan’s goal of joining the 30 most-developed countries in the world. The adoption of legislation on foreign direct investments, as well as the support of state bodies, is also contributing to the creation of a favourable investment climate.
“The 2014 Atyrau Invest Forum is aimed at strengthening mutually beneficial cooperation between foreign and domestic partners with the companies in the region, attracting investments,” said Akim (Governor) of the region Baktykozha Izmukhambetov, opening the event. He stressed that the oil capital of the country brought together more than 600 participants including representatives of 100 companies from 15 countries and delegations from Belarus and neighbouring regions.
The intense interest in the forum is explained by the fact that the region, which is the centre of major investment, has already established cooperation with 50 countries. More than 900 enterprises with foreign capital are working in the region, having created about 17,000 new jobs.
Last year, these companies transferred to the budget 1.7 trillion tenge (US$9.3 billion) in taxes. In addition to oil, Izmukhambetov said, there are also other mineral deposits in the region to be developed: potash salt, borate ore, silica sand, gypsum, limestone and clay.
The agro-industrial complex in the region is also developing. New dairy farms have recently been built and this year a complex for breeding geese, a poultry farm and several greenhouses will be put into operation.
Big hopes are associated with the National Industrial Petrochemical Technology Park Special Economic Zone, which will create about 300 productions for the deep processing of hydrocarbon raw materials and the production of competitive products with high added value. Alongside that, a 250-hectare industrial zone is being created in the region. The availability of transport infrastructure provides access to the markets of neighbouring countries and world markets by air and water transport.
According to the Statistics Agency of Kazakhstan, the volume of investments in fixed assets of the Atyrau region is 17.1 percent of the national figure. Chairman of the Investment Committee of the Ministry of Industry and New Technologies of Kazakhstan Yerlan Khairov urged the use of the opportunities created by the Customs Union, with its common market of 170 million people and a combined gross domestic product of $2 trillion. The benefits of Kazakhstan’s economic integration with the region are a single customs territory and free movement of goods.
Deputy head of Belarus’s Gomel region, Boleslav Pirshtuk, speaking on mutually beneficial partnerships, stressed that economic cooperation and bilateral trade is strengthening every year.
“The growing activity of integration processes within the currently developing Eurasian Economic Community contributes to that,” said the Belarusian delegate. By the end of the forum, the Belarusian delegation had signed cooperation agreements with the regional chamber of entrepreneurs and a memorandum of understanding with the Atyrau Special Economic Zone
Overall, Atyrau Invest 2014 brought to the region 15 memoranda and agreements totalling 19 billion tenge (US$104.4 million). In particular, the Meken farming partnership and the Atyrau SEC signed an agreement on projects for the construction of poultry farms and greenhouses. The Ak Kamy Company intends to start production of environmentally friendly biofuels in the region.
The second annual Atyrau Invest forum was held in parallel with the region’s long-running Oil and Gas Exhibition. In addition, an industry conference and the Expert – West Kazakhstan Regional Business Forum were organised within the main event.