In an attempt to bolster the country’s role as a major financial hub in Central Asia and along the route of the Belt and Road Initiative the government of Kazakhstan has officially inaugurated the Astana International Financial Centre (AIFC) in the capital today.
The EBRD, a major partner in the initiative and longstanding investor in Kazakhstan, was represented by Natasha Khanjenkova, Managing Director, Central Asia, and Agris Preimanis, Director, Head of Kazakhstan.
The AIFC development plays an important role in the overall reform agenda of the country: it will help channel domestic and foreign investment to Kazakhstan, stimulate growth, set new standards of corporate governance, and promote skills transfer and green innovation.
The Centre is expected to attract international investors to finance large-scale infrastructure projects and will play a vital role in the privatisation of large blue-chip companies – one the country’s key reform challenges. The AIFC will be governed by English law and subject to international arbitrage, a precedent both for the country and the region.
Following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the AIFC and the EBRD in 2016, the Bank supported the introduction of green financing under the AIFC and helped review the exchange rules for the Astana International Exchange (AIX). In particular, these rules will govern the establishment and operation of the AIX, set the fundamental principles for market transactions and rules of trading on the exchange.
Natasha Khanjenkova said: “I am sure that the development of the AIFC will help create a competitive, efficient and transparent financial market in Kazakhstan, Central Asia and the wider region. We at the EBRD are particularly pleased with the level of understanding and partnership between the two institutions and the commitment of the AIFC management.”
In 2017, the EBRD approved its new country strategy for Kazakhstan and signed a three-year Enhanced Partnership Framework Arrangement with the country aimed at the modernisation and diversification of the national economy.
To date, the EBRD has invested over US$ 8.7 billion in the economy of Kazakhstan.