NUR-SULTAN – The Nov. 13 Kazakh-Italian Business Forum demonstrated the interest among Italian businesspeople in investing in the Central Asian country.
“I am very happy that the Kazakh business community is very attracted by the Italian economy, by Italian businessmen and businesswomen. Today, we were so successful to have more than 100 representatives of different companies, corporations and public offices and institutions. I really believe that Kazakhstan needs Italian technology and Italian technology needs its Kazakh counterparts for the great natural resources, for the great professional talents of Kazakh businesspeople, for this time of great opportunities the Kazakh government is offering to foreign investors and partners. We believe that we have to work hand in hand to do much, much more than this. We will do another business forum with the commitment to quality and productivity,” Italian Ambassador to Kazakhstan Pasquale D’Avino told The Astana Times.
The results of the forum have been realised immediately. Italian company GSE signed a memorandum of understanding to cooperate with electric utility company AREK, said Italian Embassy in Kazakhstan Attaché for Commercial and Cultural Affairs Emilio Sessa.
From 2005-2019, $6.6 billion in Italian investments were made into the Kazakh economy and 275 joint enterprises began operation, reported the Kazakh Invest press service. Foreign trade turnover with Italy was $6.7 billion in the first eight months of 2019.
“Kazakhstan has tremendous potential for the agribusiness. It is amazing what the country can achieve with that business. Geographically, it is located close to the biggest market in the world with a high demand for vegetable and meat proteins – that is China. We in Italy have technologies that can increase the productivity of the land with agricultural machinery. We also have the technology to keep the fruits and vegetables fresh for a long time. We have a few things that we can put together with Kazakh friends,” said Italian Agency for the Promotion Abroad and the Internationalisation of Italian Companies Commissioner to Central Asia Salvatore Parano.
Historically, Italy was among the first investors in Kazakhstan. Since the beginning of diplomatic relations between the countries, the strategic oil and gas sector has been the main attraction for international investors. The Italian company Eni has been present in Kazakhstan since 1992.
“We have been here since the 1990s, so we know the country (Kazakhstan) pretty well. The company is well placed here. We are a differentiated company; we are in the construction business and infrastructure as well as oil and gas and hotels and hotel management. We are so diversified we have to follow the different news taking place in the country. Our customers are also present at this forum. So, looking at what our customers are doing is an interest for ourselves as well. We are here also to establish contacts and relationships with potential customers,” said Renco Services Division Technical Director Federico Cangioli.
Kazakh Ministry of Foreign Affairs Ambassador for Special Projects Yerlan Khairov addressed areas of potential interest to Italian investors. He noted the investment climate is very important to Kazakhstan; it is also very important that every investor that comes to the nation feels protected and comfortable and receives the help he or she needs.
Khairov spoke about the benefits of investing and working through the Astana International Finance Centre (AIFC) and Kazakh Invest. He listed several areas where Italian investment or technology could be applied, such as privatising oil and gas projects, transport, communications, agriculture, food production, logistics, mechanical engineering, public-private partnerships (PPP), field exploration, the digitisation programme and future economics.
The government is ready to help interested investors by removing customs duties on their products. If a company invests more than $12 million into priority industries including chemistry, oil chemistry, metallurgy, mechanical engineering or food production, the government will exempt it from paying three types of taxes – corporate (up to 10 years of zero payment), property (up to $8 million) and land (up to $10 million).
“I am sure that today’s business forum will give impetus to the development of economies and business relations between the countries. We have great opportunities to expand trade, economic and investment cooperation,” said Italian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Manlio Di Stefano.
During his visit, Italian businesspeople working in Kazakhstan shared their experiences, adding they found the conditions among the most comfortable for investment. This prompted the possibility of looking deeper into Kazakh investment.