EU and OECD Pledge Support to Kazakhstan’s Efforts to Revive Economic Growth

The European Union, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), and the Kazakh government organized a webinar in early June to discuss measures to address the challenges posed by the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic that the Kazakh economy faces and the nation’s recovery plan, as well as to share the experience of the EU and OECD countries in promoting small and medium-sized businesses during the crisis.

The Central Asia Invest Program is meant to assess Central Asian nations’ competitiveness, help them enhance national business spheres and build potential and exchange experiences, in line with the EU Strategy for Central Asia, which the union adopted in summer 2019. Photo credit: Kazakh Ministry of Foreign Affairs

The online event was attended by more than 100 representatives of the business community and private sector as well as international partners. 

The webinar was organized as part of the Central Asia Invest Program, a $5.5 million program launched in 2019, funded by the EU and run by the OECD for the next three years.  

Head of EU Mission to Kazakhstan Ambassador Sven-Olov Carlsson commended the country’s decisive and early response to the pandemic, acknowledging the success of government efforts meant to prevent the spread of coronavirus and efforts to support businesses and citizens in these turbulent times. 

The crisis drew attention to some of the country’s structural problems, particularly its dependence on oil, and it also underscored the need for more active economic diversification. The ambassador noted the EU’s commitment to the continued support of Kazakhstan in reviving its economic growth and noted the need to conduct long-term reforms in an effort to make the economy more sustainable. 

Kazakh Vice-Minister of the National Economy Zhaslan Madiyev noted the measures Kazakhstan has undertaken to mitigate the economic consequences of the pandemic. 

Madiyev pointed out the importance of cooperation with the OECD, EU, and other international partners in the post-Corona future. 

Amélie Schurich-Rey, a policy analyst at the OECD, shared the experience of the organization’s member states in developing the private sector and entrepreneurship. Along with supporting the liquidity of small and medium enterprises and households, she noted the need to facilitate innovations and digitization to ensure long-term growth. 

Bert Brys, a senior tax economist at the OECD, talked about financial measures to support the private sector and health care during the pandemic and explored the ways to apply these measures to Kazakhstan, including strengthening the fiscal scheme concerning value-added tax and personal income tax based on the upcoming OECD Tax Policy Review of Kazakhstan.

“The recovery phase will require a balance between measures that support firms’ and households’ liquidity while avoiding two pitfalls – raising taxes too quickly, which would curtail activity and consumption, and cutting tax rates permanently,” the EU said in an official statement. 

Upon reviewing Kazakh investment policies, OECD Policy Analyst Peline Atamer noted the economy’s dependence on extracting industries and the government’s efforts to streamline its regulatory investment environment.

The OECD also advised Kazakhstan to take measures to decarbonize the economy, boost human capital development, and strengthen the regulatory environment. 

Ambassador Carlsson concluded the webinar by stressing the need to strengthen regional coordination to restore trade flows. 

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