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Almaty Unveils Its Appetite for Foreign Investment

ALMATY, Kazakhstan, Dec. 5, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Scores of international companies made a beeline this week to attend the first Almaty Investment Forum that showcased the financial hub of Kazakhstan as a favorable destination for foreign investment.

(Photo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20131205/PH28550 )

Kazakhstan Prime Minister Serik Akhmetov assured the foreign investors to create more favorable conditions for doing business in the country and hinted at giving several incentives including exemption from customs duties on the import of equipment, grants in the form of land and several tax rebates.

According to 2013-2014 investor protection index published by the World Economic Forum, Kazakhstan shares the 10th place with the UK and is ahead of other European countries.

"In 'Kazakhstan 2050' Strategy President Nursultan Nazarbayev wants the nation to be among the top 30 developed countries in the world, and to achieve this goal it is necessary to further improve the investment policy," Akhmetov said.

He said that the per capital foreign investment in country was $6500, the highest figure in the post soviet countries. More than 8,000 companies have invested more than 170 billion dollars in Kazakhstan since it opened its doors to foreign investment in 2005.

The host of Dec 3-4 Almaty Investment Forum, Mayor Akhmetzhan Yesimov proudly reeled out statistics citing Almaty to be most favorable investment destination in the country. He said that 1/5 of country's GDP comes from Almaty and 1/4 of total tax collection of country are generated in the city that is home to 1.5 million people.

Yesimov said that Gross regional product per capita adds up to $25,000, more than that of countries such as the Czech Republic, Poland and Bulgaria.  

The Mayor said that Almaty is one of Kazakhstan's largest transport hubs. By using its natural advantages of location on the transit ways between the East and the West, Almaty has all it takes to become a large transport, trade and logistic hub in the Central Asian region. "For domestic and overseas investors our city can become a good venue to enter the markets of Russia and Belarus with a population of more than 150 million people," Yesimov said.

Yesimov said that Almaty city was also home to a 1.5 billion dollar Essentai Park project is the largest private investment in the whole post-Soviet area made by a single domestic investor. The Essentai Tower is home to a 32,000 square Ft, 3-level Saks Fifth Avenue store that carries many of the world's biggest luxury brands and fashion. It will also have a $470-million Ritz Carlton Hotel.

The city of Almaty is also seeking investment in the booming tourism sector. The city of Almaty is located in some of the most picturesque places of Zailisky Alatau and this opens up ample development opportunities for skiing tourism. "We have started to develop a skiing resort called Kok Zhailau. Some of the biggest global specialists with expertise in building skiing resorts have been attracted," Yesimov said.

City officials also said that since Expo 2017 will be held in Astana and nearly 3 million visitors are expected, the city of Almaty is trying to reap the benefit of its tourism potential as a large number of foreign visitors will transit through Almaty to Astana.

Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus and former Mayor of London, Kenneth Livingstone were impressed with their first ever visit to the city and overawed with the development of a post-Soviet country.

Livingstone said he would encourage British investors to look at Kazakhstan as a very favorable destination. Yunus offered to work with the city of Almaty in launching any micro credit finance system to uplift the lower strata of the society. The forum was attended by more than 1,000 delegates from 42 countries.

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SOURCE Almaty Investment Forum

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