Astana Finance Days Conference Tackles Global Economic Downturn, Discusses Mitigation Strategies

The third annual Astana Finance Days (AFD) five-day conference began on June 29 with virtual discussions, webinars and live panel sessions on support mechanisms to reverse the economic repercussions of the global lockdown. The third conference was named: “Markets in a Disrupted World” and as the name implies, was set up to  discuss the global economy, fintech, capital markets, Astana International Financial Center (AIFC) law, Islamic finance, as well as the development of human capital.

Nur-Alem Kazakh pavilion during EXPO 2017, the main venue of Astana Finance Days in 2018 and 2019. This year, the event is being held online

The AFD 2020 provides an opportunity for relevant voices to discuss the opinions and forecasts of world renowned experts from the International Monetary Fund, the Nasdaq financial service company, the Center for International Development’s Growth Lab and the Reinventing Bretton Woods Committee, among other leaders in global finance.

The conference also encourages proposals and ideas to improve developing economies and assist them to create a sustainable mechanism against economic shocks. The conference will look at other opportunities for developing economies, especially the ones experiencing recession.

This is especially relevant today as the pandemic created an unprecedented economic downturn since the 1990s. Oil-based economies, including Kazakhstan, deal with new challenges brought by oil price fall. Many small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) had to freeze their businesses for several months or adapt their services in a new limited contactless environment.

Kazakhstan’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth has had a relatively stable positive growth trend clocking in at 4.1-4.5 percent over the last three years. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) forecasted in April that Kazakhstan will maintain 1.8 percent GDP growth in 2020. The ADB, however, had to revise the forecast in June to reflect the lockdown measures and projected a 1.2 percent decline instead.

The agenda on the first day of the AFD included panel sessions on Islamic financial technologies, AIFC transaction structuring, and the digital transformation of education.

The first AFD conference in 2018 focused on introducing the newly established AIFC and discussed the potential of Kazakhstan to become a regional financial hub. During the second conference the AIFC and its associated bodies signed a number of memorandums of understanding with business associations from China, Korea and Europe.

Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev also opened the AIFC Court and the International Arbitration Centre (IAC) on July 2, 2019 during the second AFD. The two legal bodies use English common law as a common platform to give investors greater confidence in the country’s regulatory environment.

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