Kazakh Negotiations to Join WTO Going Well, Should Conclude by Year’s End, Says Official

BRUSSELS –Kazakhstan’s government is committed to creating stable and predictable conditions for European investors that enhance the diversity of Kazakhstan’s economy while the country is in the final stage of negotiations on accession to the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Kazakhstan’s Minister for Economic Integration Zhanar Aitzhanova said after a meeting here with European Commissioner for Trade Karel de Gucht on Sept. 30.

wto-logoAccording to the minister, during the negotiations at the European Commission, issues of bilateral cooperation were discussed and significant progress on finalising the text of a section on trade and investment of the new enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) between Kazakhstan and the EU was made. [President Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan is traveling to Brussels on Oct. 8-9 to complete the talks and sign the PCA with top European leaders.] Topics such as trade, customs cooperation, competition, technical regulations, food safety, intellectual property, investment in the energy and mining sectors, as well as market access for goods and services were discussed.

“Negotiations with [the EU Commissioner for Trade Karel] de Gucht were completed in accordance with our national economic interests, as well as our obligations concerning WTO accession. A predictable climate and conditions conducive to investment not only in the resource sector, but also in manufacturing, agriculture and industry will be created for entrepreneurs and businessmen from 28 EU countries, which are the largest investors in Kazakhstan,” Aitzhanova said.

From 1993-2013, the gross inflow of direct investment from the EU into Kazakhstan’s economy amounted to approximately $87 billion. Kazakhstan’s main investors are the Netherlands, Britain, Italy and France. The volume of bilateral trade between Kazakhstan and the EU by the end of 2013 amounted to $53 billion, which is more than 40 percent of Kazakhstan’s total trade turnover.Over the first half of 2014,total trade with the European Union has already exceeded $28 billion, which is 45 percent of the country’s total trade.

“With regards to the field of trade and services, in respect to the EU, we will take the same obligations that will take effect upon the accession of Kazakhstan to the WTO,” Aitzhanova explained.

At the same time, in sectors of the economy suffering from a shortage of highly skilled labourers, Kazakhstan will procure European staff on a contractual basis in areas such as information technology, engineering and architecture environmental protection, and auditing services.

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