AIFC Emerges as Central Asia’s Financial Powerhouse, Leading Global Rankings in 2023

ASTANA – Astana International Financial Centre (AIFC) has reinforced its leading position in the Central Asia and Eastern Europe region, as per the Global Financial Centers Index rating. The center confirmed the presence of a favorable legal and regulatory environment, coupled with a well-established infrastructure for business operations, investment attraction, and human capital development, reported the AIFC’s press service on Dec.26.

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Over the past year, the AIFC registered over 600 new participants, bringing the total number of companies to more than 2,300, spanning 78 countries.

The Astana International Exchange (AIX) debt instruments market experienced unprecedented growth, marked by the listing of 56 debt instruments in 2023. The total raised capital surpassed $1.95 billion during this period. The AIX also expanded by including seven equity instruments, including shares from the Kazakhstan Electricity Grid Operating Company (KEGOC).

In 2023, the AIX welcomed 14 new members, including Kazakh and European brokers and custodians. As of Dec. 21, the trading volume on the AIX reached a historic high of $510 million compared to $173 million in 2022. 

Assets under management in the AIFC grew by 82%, reaching a record level of $1 billion from $585 million at the beginning of 2023. The number of registered funds increased from 20 to 37 during the same period, with the volume of investment funds’ assets under management reaching $616 million.

To bolster investment attraction, the AIFC continues introducing new products and services previously unavailable in Kazakhstan’s financial market. From 2022 the volume of transactions under the pilot project on the interaction of AIFC crypto exchanges with Kazakh banks reached around $220 million, a 104-fold increase compared to 2022. The number of clients surged by 6.7 times to 41,384.

The AIFC’s crowdfunding platforms supported over 300 projects, totaling over $35 million. In 2023, nearly 150 projects worth $14.3 million were funded, spanning industries such as IT, construction, commerce, agriculture, services, manufacturing, and engineering.

The Astana Financial Services Authority (AFSA) granted authorization to 20 companies offering financial services in AIFC. Seven ancillary service providers (ASP) consultants were registered, bringing the overall count of such companies to 116.

In the current year, the AIFC signed collaborative agreements with nine regulators, including the Cayman Islands, the Kyrgyz Republic, Luxembourg, Mongolia, Oman, Russia, the United Arab Emirates, Hungary, and Uzbekistan. This development elevated the total number of cooperation agreements to 53.

The AIFC Court and the International Arbitration Center (IAC) also achieved significant milestones by successfully resolving and enforcing a record number of cases, totaling 736, including 38 judgments, 191 arbitral awards, and 507 mediated settlements. Lord Burnett of Maldon assumed the role of the AIFC Court’s Chief Justice, while Thomas Krummel was appointed as the Chairman of the IAC. The AIFC courtrooms are accessible in eight countries, including Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Türkiye, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. Over the years, 566 lawyers from 30 countries have registered with the AIFC Court to represent parties in cases.

Green finance is a priority for the AIFC’s development. The AIFC Green Finance Center (GFC) efforts resulted in Astana ranking first in Eastern Europe and Central Asia in the Global Green Finance Index (GGFI).

By the end of the year, over 60% of green bonds and loans in the country received support from the GFC. Since the launch of the sustainability market in 2020, the issuance of bonds and loans has totaled 236.5 billion tenge ($521.3 million). In 2023, sustainable bonds comprising 64.7 billion tenge ($142.6 million) were placed. OnlineKazFinance (Solva) microfinance was the first microfinance organization in Kazakhstan to issue debut gender bonds.

The first placement of subsidized green bonds totaling three billion tenge ($6.6 million) by KazWindEnergy took place with the support of the GFC.

The Development Bank of Kazakhstan issued the first green bonds, certified according to the Climate Bonds standard, totaling seven billion tenge ($15.4 million). On the AIFC platform, Almaty Electric Stations and the Eurasian Development Bank signed an agreement for the reconstruction project of the Almaty thermal power plant-3(CHP-3). The project will unfold through the issuance of the first Sustainable Development Bonds (SLB) in Central Asia, with a total value of up to 236.8 billion tenge ($522 million).

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