HELSINKI – Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev discussed energy, education, green science and other areas of cooperation with Finnish President Sauli Niinistö and Finnish business leaders during an Oct.16-17 official visit to Helsinki.
The two leaders witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understanding on strategic partnership in energy and green economy between the Kazakh Ministry of Energy and the Finnish Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment and the Ministry Environment. They also oversaw the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the Ministry of Investment and Development of Kazakhstan and the Ministry of Transport and Communications of Finland regarding air traffic between the two countries.
“Both of our countries have significant potential for deepening of collaboration. Therefore, it is necessary to accelerate the work of the intergovernmental commission’s working groups in the fields of energy, transport, agriculture and education. We need to start discussing specific projects,” Nazarbayev said. “We have agreed to launch completely new projects, which will strengthen our cooperation. I propose to instruct our governments to take control over the implementation of our agreements.”
Nazarbayev added that the two countries share common positions on many international issues and maintain positive relations with their neighbours.
Ambassador of Kazakhstan to Finland Murat Nurtleuov characterised Nazarbayev’s visit as “the beginning of a new stage of deepening bilateral cooperation.”
Niinistö expressed a similar sentiment, saying “I hope that your visit will contribute to further deepening of our relations. I am always very interested in your views on the events taking place in the world. Today, smart opinions and deep assessments are very much needed.”
Finland is a key trade, economic and investment partner of Kazakhstan in Northern Europe. Ninety percent of Finnish trade in Central Asia is with Kazakhstan.
The two presidents had last met during Astana’s hosting of EXPO 2017.
Nazarbayev noted the importance of the documents signed during his meeting with the Finnish business community.
In the meeting with Finnish business leaders, Nazarbayev noted that since Kazakhstan’s independence Finland has invested more than $300 million in the country. Approximately 100 enterprises with Finnish capital participation are registered in Kazakhstan.
“In order to effectively interact with investors and businesses, we launched national companies, such as Kazakh Invest and Kazakh Export. We have a Council of Foreign Investors under the President. We offer our investors exemptions from corporate, land and property taxes in such priority sectors as metallurgy, oil refining, engineering, chemistry, food production. The attraction of foreign labour is also carried out without quotas and permits,” Nazarbayev said at a joint press briefing with Niinistö.
The President spoke about the state support provided to farmers and invited Finnish companies to participate actively in development of Kazakhstan’s agro-industrial complex.
In addition, Nazarbayev mentioned the benefits of the Astana International Financial Centre (AIFC) and its high-tech stock exchange. He noted that the Shanghai Stock Exchange and the US NASDAQ are the partners of the project.
Nazarbayev expressed confidence that Finnish business people will use all the conditions created in Kazakhstan to develop business and cooperation.
Separately, Nazarbayev met with the management of the Finnish telecommunications company Nokia to discuss the introduction of new communication technologies while implementing projects on the digitisation of economic sectors and the development of the innovation ecosystem.
“Since 2007, Nokia has been cooperating with our country. Today, the company’s turnover is $20 billion,” Nazarbayev said.
Nazarbayev told Risto Siilasmaa, the company’s chair of the board of directors, that Kazakhstan aims to increase labour productivity through the introduction of automation, robotisation and artificial intelligence in the production process. He also focused on the implementation of the state programme Digital Kazakhstan.
Siilasmaa expressed support to Kazakhstan’s orientation to technological development and transition to digital technologies.