Cooperation with Central Asia discussed at British Parliament

LONDON, 25 February 2019 – The Conservative Foreign & Commonwealth Council (CFCC) and Conservative Friends of Eurasia hosted the “Global Britain and multilateral relations with the Central Asian States" panel at Parliament, where the ambassadors of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan discussed political and economic developments in the region.

Opening the event, CFCC Chairman, Rehman Chishti MP, set the tone for the discussion and highlighted Central Asia's prominent place in international relations and the prospects for the UK in the region.

In his speech, the Ambassador of Kazakhstan to the UK Erlan Idrissov focused on Kazakhstan's economic achievements and investment opportunities. Already the largest economy in Central Asia, Kazakhstan's GDP expanded 4.2 percent in the first nine months of 2018. Over the years of independence, Kazakhstan's GDP increased 16 times, while large-scale reforms and development strategies were implemented in the country, which ensured the current stable and favourable business climate.

Ambassador Idrissov also elaborated on the new mission and tasks assigned to Kazakhstan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs by the Head of State. The Ministry is ready to actively engage in further improving Kazakhstan's business climate, including by creating favourable conditions for investment through strategic incentives. Among the measures to further improve the investment climate in Kazakhstan, there are tax breaks and reforms, as well as stronger legal protection for foreign businesses.

The Kazakh diplomat noted that the UK is one of the top six foreign investors in Kazakhstan. Over the past 13 years, more than $12 billion of investments into the Kazakh economy came from the UK. In an increasingly developed and complex global setting, the Kazakh-British strategic partnership has gone from strength to strength, and the frequency of political discussions and meetings at all levels is a testament to these deepening ties.

Ambassador Idrissov drew the audience's attention to the launch of the Astana International Financial Centre (AIFC), which is transforming Astana into a regional financial centre. The AIFC was set up with significant contributions from British experts, operates on the principles of English common law, and offers its participants access to tax breaks and an independent judicial system.

Kazakhstan is the land bridge between the economic powerhouses of Europe and China, as well as the fast-growing economies of Asia, the Middle East and Africa. The country's $9 billion Nurly Zhol programme is designed to enhance industrial capacity, develop infrastructure and diversify Kazakhstan from its energy sector. Kazakhstan's infrastructure is further developing with investment from China's ambitious Belt and Road Initiative, of which Kazakhstan is a key element. According to Mr. Idrissov, this improved connectivity will enable Kazakhstan to act as a trade and financial hub to serve the wider region. He noted the importance of expanding the UK-Kazakhstan-China business partnership, which could be developed through a “British technologies, Kazakh resources and Chinese investment and market" framework.

Other ambassadors discussed the significant political and economic events that have been taking place in their states and across Central Asia, Afghanistan and Pakistan. The region's importance is rapidly growing in modern international relations, and intraregional cooperation has developed significantly.

Event participants noted the importance of the working meeting of the heads of state of Central Asia in Astana on 15th March last year – the first summit of Central Asian leaders in nearly a decade. The attendees also highlighted Kazakhstan's role in the reconstruction and development of Afghanistan, especially Kazakhstan's state educational programme for training Afghan students.

Created at : 27.02.2019, 13:00, Updated at : 27.02.2019, 13:00