Kazakhstan seeks closer ties with US businesses in efforts to modernize country

By Ambassador

Erzhan Kazykhanov

Earlier this year, Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev made an official visit to Washington, DC, where he met with President Donald Trump and some of America’s top business executives. The goal of the visit was straightforward: To strengthen commercial and trade ties between the United States and Kazakhstan in order to create jobs and accelerate economic growth in both countries.


The two leaders cemented the visit with the signing of the Enhanced Strategic Partnership, an agreement for the two nations to continue seeking opportunities for collaboration in multiple areas, including trade and investment.

While the Trump administration pushes an economic agenda, the government of Kazakhstan has also laid out an ambitious plan to transform the country into the largest business and transit hub in Central Asia. Under this vision, Kazakhstan would become the bridge between Europe and Asia, the Middle East and the West — a central point for global economic integration and investment destination.

For Kazakhstan, our relationship with the United States is essential to achieving these goals of modernization. American business leaders understand the large role that Kazakhstan’s economy plays in Central Asia and how it is the most market-oriented economy in the region. Today, Kazakhstan accounts for 80 percent of all foreign direct investment in Central Asia, and it aims to join the ranks of the top 30 global economies by 2050.

Investing in our region is a solid venture not only for the Kazakh people, but it also generates jobs in the United States, which is why we are collaborating with the Council on Foreign Relations and Kazakh Invest — Kazakhstan’s inward investment group — to host a major investment conference in New York City this week titled, “Kazakhstan in a changing Eurasia.”

Attending the conference will be representatives from more than 200 American companies, along with a multitude of Kazakh business leaders and high-level ministers, including Kazakhstan’s Foreign Minister, Minister of Economy and Deputy Prime Minister.

To further demonstrate our commitment to stronger commercial ties with the United States, we have recently been instituting a new wave of structural reforms to transform our country into a regional financial powerhouse. These reforms aim to offset our oil dependence with a growing services sector while also increasing transport hub capacities and financial intermediation — improving our business climate for outside investors.

One great example of a recent Kazakh-American joint venture is the launch of the Astana International Financial Center (AIFC) in collaboration with American partners like Nasdaq. Our government is devoting more than $60 million per year to develop the center through 2020, while AIFC aims to attract up to $40 billion in global investments by 2025. We believe that American companies can and should play a major role in AIFC’s development, as it is the first major financial center throughout Central Asia.

In the spirit of the Enhanced Strategic Partnership, the Kazakh delegation in New York this week is forging new relationships and enhancing existing partnerships with members of the American business community. The investment conference hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations aims to showcase that Kazakhstan is serious about welcoming American companies to our country.

We have deep trust in our relationship with the United States and in the American economy, and we hope that American business leaders will come to understand the true value of everything Kazakhstan has to offer.