NUR-SULTAN – The Astana International Financial Centre (AIFC) seeks to contribute as a centre of excellence in implementing reform strategies and assist in attracting investment into the country’s economy, said AIFC Governor Kairat Kelimbetov, who focused on the results of the center’s activities, at the press briefing on June 29.
The meeting was held as part of the Astana Finance Days conference, which kicked off on June 27 under the theme “Sustainability, social responsibility, and growth.”
Earlier this week, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev approved the AIFC’s annual report at the meeting of the AIFC Management Council.
Kelimbetov said the centre seeks to attract $10 billion of investments through the jurisdiction of the AIFC and to register more than 2,000 companies, according to the AIFC’s strategy through 2025.
“Today we have already attracted more than $6.6 billion of investments through portfolio and direct investments. More than 1,400 companies registered. Our key performance indicators show good results. Despite the pandemic-related restrictions, the Digital Residency and E-Justice systems worked well. Our financial centre was able to register companies within one day, and today can register in three hours. It takes more time for the company under a financial license,” said Kelimbetov.
Kelimbetov also noted that the first stage of the AIFC system formation has been completed. “We believe the AIFC ecosystem that has been created in recent years goes in line with the new economic policy and is a part of the new Kazakhstan. The standards that have been achieved in corporate governance, legal activities, and stock exchange can be used as good practice in the country,” he added.
During the conference, the AIFC and National Chamber of Entrepreneurs Atameken signed an agreement on mutual understanding and a roadmap for cooperation to establish a robust framework for collaboration and experience sharing.
The roadmap provides steps for further mutual interaction and includes measures aimed at improving investment attractiveness, cooperation in business assistance, and the development of alternative financing.
The AIFC also works closely with government agencies including the Economic Policy Council and the Supreme Council for Reforms.
On June 28, Deputy Chairman of the AIFC Management Council Sir Suma Chakrabarti, who took part in the session dedicated to economic growth in New Kazakhstan, said that the centre should continue creating a supportive environment for digital innovation.
“The AIFC has been a leading financial centre offering innovative products and services to ensure the sustainable development of Kazakhstan and the neighboring countries. Many businesses from Central Asian countries are already benefiting from the opportunities provided by the AIFC… In a recent EBRD study, Kazakhstan is the regional leader in digitalization. And I think the AIFC leads with special regulatory regimes for FinTech development, and the FinTech lab as well,” said Sir Suma.
Sir Suma also noted the “fantastic progress” made by the AIFC Court and International Arbitration Centre (IAC) that successfully resolved 1,099 commercial disputes involving businesses and investors from 20 countries since 2018.
Sir Suma also believes Kazakhstan can provide a safe harbor for many investors amidst uncertainty and to continue to progress with its reforms.
Major announcements made at the Astana Finance Days
The Astana International Exchange (AIX) has introduced a direct subscription platform for the upcoming IPOs as part of the Privatization Program of Samruk Kazyna Sovereign Wealth Fund at the conference. This platform provides equal access to all Kazakh citizens who wish to purchase shares in national companies.
It is reported that the direct subscription will be available through a Tabys mobile app and Kazpost network throughout Kazakhstan. The investor is required to have an ID card and a smartphone. The service is available online.
The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) Investment Council, a non-government-sponsored organization, has been created at the AIFC. The council will serve as an advisory committee with a mission to support and diversify the development of Kazakhstan’s economy, and strengthen the role of Kazakhstan in BRI construction and cooperation in the region.
The AIFC, Shanghai Stock Exchange, Silk Road Fund, China International Capital Corporation, Brillink Bank, Samruk Kazyna Invest, China Construction Bank Astana Branch, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Almaty, Bank of China Kazakhstan, Dentons Kazakhstan, and China Council for the Promotion of International Trade Representative Office in Kazakhstan joined the council.
A pilot project on the interaction of Kazakh banks and crypto exchanges registered in AIFC has also been launched during the Astana Finance Days conference. The working group developed rules of interaction between the AIFC crypto exchanges and Kazakhstan’s second-tier banks. This provides a regulatory framework for further development of Kazakhstan’s potential as a regional crypto hub.
The project will operate in pilot mode until 2022. This involves crypto exchanges licensed by the Astana Financial Services Authority, an independent regulator of financial services, to operate as Digital Assets Trading Facilities, in cooperation with second-tier banks.
It is reported that a new centre for English Language Learning (CELL) has been launched at the AIFC Court and International Arbitration Centre (IAC). The hub will provide high-quality English language support for the legal and financial sector, primarily focused on business English and English for law and English for finance, and IELTS preparation courses.