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The United Kingdom is one of the five largest FDI contributors to Kazakhstan. Between 2005 and 2017, UK investment in Kazakhstan totaled more than $12 billion.
Trade between the two countries between January and April 2017 was valued at $422.6 million, a 21 per cent increase compared to the same period in 2016 ($334.3 million). Exports have grown by 31 per cent, totaling $331.7 million. The value of imports was $90.8 million.
Primary export materials include non-ferrous metals; ferroalloys; chemical products; coal; crude oil and oil products; and cereals. Import materials include cranes; engines; industrial equipment; electrical equipment; optical and medical devices; medicines; aircraft and repair parts; steel structures; chemical products; and antiques.
Since September 2017, Baroness Emma Nicholson, a member of the House of Lords, has served as the United Kingdom's Trade Envoy to Kazakhstan.
China's launch of a direct rail freight from the wholesale center of Yiwu to London – which travels through Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Poland, Germany, Belgium and France – was an important event in 2017. It is noteworthy that the Kazakhstan's JSC 'KTZ Express' was chosen as operator of this cargo.
More than 800 British legal entities are registered in Kazakhstan. Royal Dutch Shell and Ernst&Young are included in the Council of Foreign Investors under the President of Kazakhstan. British companies represented in the Kazakh market include: Rolls Royce; Rio Tinto; BAE Systems; AstraZeneca; GlaxoSmithKline; PwC; KPMG; Wood Group; William Hare; WorleyParsons; and Petrofac. Also represented are the branches of Baker & McKenzie; Norton Rose Fulbright; White & Case; Reed Smith; Michael Wilson & Partners; Dentons; Dechert; and Morgan Lewis.
Kazakh business is represented in the UK by branches of the 'Samruk-Kazyna' national welfare fund, Kazmortransflot UK Ltd, and Air Astana.
Many Kazakh companies - worth £5.8 billion in total capital – are listed on the London Stock Exchange, including KazMunaiGas, HalykBank, Kcell, and Kazkommertsbank, Nostrum Oil & Gas, KAZ Minerals, Goldbridges, Chagala Group. Eight mining companies – Steppe Cement, Tau Capital, Roxi Petroleum, Central Asia Metals, Jupiter Energy, Kemin Resources – are listed on the AIM (the London Stock Exchange's international market for smaller growing companies).
Since 2009, Kazakhstan's JSC 'Kazakhstan Aluminium Smelter' has been a member of the London Metal Exchange.
Investor Day, a landmark event in bilateral trade and economic relations, was hosted on 5 April 2017 by the 'Samruk-Kazyna' welfare fund at the London Stock Exchange. The event was recognized as the first overseas road-show in privatising the fund's large assets. The event was attended by Mr Greg Hands, UK's International Trade Minister; Mr Robert Barnes, CEO of Turquoise and Head of Primary Markets for the London Stock Exchange Group; Mr Timur Suleimenov, Kazakhstan's Minister of the National Economy; and Mr Umirzak Shukeyev, Chairman of Samruk Kazyna.
The UK was one of the first countries to confirm its participation at EXPO 2017 in Astana and appoint its National Commissioner. Spanning 1,100 square meters, the 'We Are Energy' themed UK pavilion was the largest pavilion at the EXPO. It was shaped to resemble a Kazakh yurt. At EXPO, the UK pavilion presented graphene, the material, which has the potential to radically change the way energy is produced and consumed.
EXPO 2017 hosted the visit of a big business-delegation led by Mr Andrew Parmley, the Lord-Mayor of the City of London. During the visit, Dr Parmley held meetings with Mr Bakytzhan Sagintayev, the Kazakh Prime Minister, Mr Kairat Kelimbetov, Governor of the Astana International Financial Centre (AIFC), as well as Mr Maxat Kabashev, Chairman of the 'Kazakh Invest' National Company.
The United Kingdom is actively participating in establishing the AIFC, which will be based on the English Law. The two sides recognize a MoU between the AIFC, TheCityUK and EBRD, which was signed during the President of Kazakhstan's visit to London in November 2015.
On 5 May 2017, the first meeting of the Legal Advisory Council – an advisory body established under the Astana International Financial Centre – was held at the Embassy of Kazakhstan in the UK. It was attended by representatives from leading law firms in the UK, including Baker McKenzie, Devonshires, Hogan Lovells, Michelmores, Norton Rose Fulbright, and White & Case.
Between April and September 2017, 14 judges and officials from Kazakhstan's judicial bodies undertook a six month intensive legal training course. Participants learnt about key principles of English common law and commercial, contractual, and entrepreneurial law. The training course focused specifically on the needs of the AIFC and was taken at London's City University. The training was organised with the support of the 'Bolashak' presidential scholarship – a joint initiative of Kazakhstan's Supreme Court and the Astana International Financial Centre (AIFC).
From January 2017, UK nationals – along with nationals from OECD countries – were offered a visa-free regime to visit Kazakhstan for up to 30 days.
On 30 October 2013, the Intergovernmental Commission (IGC) on Trade, Economic, Scientific and Technical and Cultural Co-operation was established between Kazakhstan and the United Kingdom. The first meeting of the new Commission took was held on 5 November 2013 in Astana.
The second session of the Kazakh-UK IGC was held on 3 November 2015 during the President of Kazakhstan's visit to London. Participants of the session discussed a number of projects, including China's 'Belt and Road' Initiative, EXPO 2017 and the establishment of the Astana International Financial Centre.
There are a number of other bilateral structures. On February 24 2015, the Business Council of JSC Samruk-Kazyna and UKTI, and the British Chamber of Commerce Representative Office in Kazakhstan were successfully launched in London. The first meeting of the Business Council was held on the sidelines of the official visit of President Nursultan Nazarbayev to London on 3 November 2015. The meeting resulted in the signing of 14 bilateral documents worth $208 million.