LONDON – EXPO 2017 commissioner and Kazakh First Deputy Foreign Minister Rapil Zhoshybayev visited a number of West European countries in June, negotiating conditions for their participation in the internationally-specialised exhibition with the theme “Future Energy.”
To date, 29 governments and four international organisations have confirmed their commitment to participate, according to the Kazakh foreign ministry.
Led by Zhoshybayev, the Kazakh delegation attended the 157th session of the Bureau of International Expositions (BIE) general assembly held June 9 in Paris. Reports on preparations for horticultural Expo Antalya 2016, EXPO Astana 2017 and World Expo Dubai 2020 were heard at the meeting.
Addressing the session, the expo commissioner reported on the progress of confirmations from international participants to attend the event, development of the legal framework and fulfilment of Kazakhstan’s commitments in the face of the BIE requirements. In addition, Astana EXPO 2017 deputy chair Vera Kobalia presented the current progress of the construction work, as well as the master, content and communication plans of the exhibition and the business plans of the company for the coming period. The foreign ministry reported that the officials and members of the BIE “positively assessed” the preparations for the event.
During his visit to Spain on June 15-16, Zhoshybayev met with Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo, Secretary of State for Commerce and Kazakh-Spanish Intergovernmental Commission co-chair Jaime García-Legaz Ponce, Secretary of State for Tourism Isabel Borrego Cortes and Secretary of State for Infrastructure, Housing and Transport Julio Gómez-Pomar. In addition, a series of meeting were held with heads of leading Spanish companies.
Zhoshybayev and Garcia-Margallo noted the high level of cooperation between the two countries and underlined the importance of the planned visit of King Felipe VI to Kazakhstan. On behalf of President Nursultan Nazarbayev, Zhoshybayev presented the original of the EXPO 2017 invitation to the King and Prime Minister of Spain. The Kazakh official noted that Nazarbayev was inspired with the idea of hosting a grand international exposition in Astana when he visited Expo 2008 in Zaragoza, Spain, so the nation’s experience in this area is quite relevant for Kazakhstan.
Prospects were discussed with the secretary of state for commerce regarding joint work to attract Spanish corporate participants to EXPO 2017. Co-chaired by Zhoshybayev and Ponce, a business forum was held the same day toward this goal with more than 70 Spanish companies.
At the meeting with the state secretary for tourism, the sides agreed to exchange experience in tourism development and personnel training. The insight is especially relevant given Spain’s strong position in this field.
Following the meeting, a memorandum on cooperation was signed between Astana EXPO 2017 and Turespaña, a leading association of Spanish tour operators.
Zhoshybayev visited London June 16-18, where he took part in the presentation of EXPO 2017 for British companies and held working meetings with senior British officials. The latter included GREAT Britain Campaign Director at the UK Prime Minister’s Office Conrad Bird, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Tobias Ellwood and Chief Executive of UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) Dominic Jermey. Details of the expo were presented to representatives of about 70 British companies, many of whom expressed solid interest in being part of the event, as well as in post-exposition usage of facilities.
During the forum, Zhoshybayev presented the conditions of participation, including customs, tax and other benefits, to the attention of the UK business community.
The parties discussed the topical issues of bilateral strategic partnership with Ellwood, including the facilitation of the visa regime. The British side said the expo would contribute to the inflow of technology, strengthen the scientific base and improve the image of Kazakhstan in the international arena.
At the UKTI meeting, Zhoshybayev and Jermey discussed prospects of speeding up bilateral cooperation in trade and investment relations, as well as ways to involve the UK government and British companies in the organisation of the event.
A thorough exchange of views on the British experience in holding major international events and cooperation was also reviewed with Bird.
A highlight of the visit was a meeting with Kazakh students studying at British universities, where Zhoshybayev encouraged them to actively engage in promoting the event among their peers.
From the moment of the receipt of the BIE Flag in June 2014, which symbolised confirmation of the official status of EXPO 2017 Astana, Zhoshybayev in his capacity as expo commissioner has visited 29 countries in Europe and Asia. Further trips are planned this year in order to attract more participants from Europe, North America and Middle East countries, while 2016 would see new attempts to engage Asia-Pacific and Latin American countries.