FIC to Be Held June 4-5 as Country Ponders Expanding Visa-Free Regime to 35 More Countries

ASTANA – On June 4-5, Astana will host the 28th plenary meeting of the Foreign Investors Council under the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan (FIC) devoted to the development of agribusiness in Kazakhstan.

8ba87694b83ab92cb86e5e2b942bbbb0The event is expected to involve the heads of companies and organisations, such as the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the Eurasian Development Bank, Chevron, Lukoil, ArcelorMittal, ERG, Metro Cash & Carry and others, according to a May 20 press release from the Investments Committee of the Kazakh Ministry of Investment and Development.

Since the establishment of the FIC, 27 plenary meetings have been held under the chairmanship of President Nursultan Nazarbayev, in which a wide range of issues were discussed including improvement of the legal environment for foreign investment, development of the judicial system, optimisation of the tax system and import of foreign labour, enhancement of Kazakhstan’s investment image, among others. At the end of the plenary and interim sessions of the council, protocol solutions with instructions to ministries and agencies and the recommendations of the board with a foreign party on the improvement of the investment climate in Kazakhstan were adopted.

To strengthen relations with other nations and improve Kazakhstan’s investment climate, many believe it is necessary to establish visa-free entry into Kazakhstan. Today, Kazakhstan offers a visa-free regime for up to 90 days to countries such as Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Russia and Ukraine. Citizens of Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Argentine, Turkey, and South Korea are allowed visa-free entry for up to 30 days.

One of the significant achievements in this field was the introduction last year of visa-free entry for citizens of ten countries unilaterally. President Nazarbayev announced at the June 2014 meeting of the Foreign Investors Council in Borovoye that a visa-free regime had been unilaterally established for the 10 countries with the highest investment activity in Kazakhstan, including the United States, the Netherlands, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Malaysia, United Arab Emirates, the Republic of Korea and Japan.

During the period from July 15, 2014, to July 15, 2015, citizens of these countries who have valid diplomatic, official and national passports may enter repeatedly the territory of Kazakhstan for up to 15 calendar days.

The number of countries that enjoy visa-free entry to Kazakhstan is now set to be expanded. According to a presidential decree that established the procedures for the Astana International Financial Centre (AIFC), a visa-free regime of up to 30 days will be introduced for citizens of 34 member countries of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), as well as the United Arab Emirates, Singapore and Malaysia. The precise date of when the regulation will enter into force, however, is yet to be announced.

It was also announced on May 20 in the “100 concrete steps to implement five institutional reforms” document that Kazakhstan will establish the AIFC in order to transform Astana into a financial hub for the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries, as well as West and Central Asia. The centre will utilise facilities constructed for EXPO 2017 following the event. The AIFC will regulate relations between parties on the basis of the standards of the world’s leading financial centres and the principles of English law using the English language, including in legal proceedings. In addition, the government announced it would introduce a new visa valid for up to five years for employees of the centre and their families.

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