Kazakhstan News Bulletin Released weekly by the Embassy of The Republic of Kazakhstan

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Special Edition   Vol. 3, No. 27, August 20, 2001


Kazakhstan's Minister of Economy and Trade talks about
expanding trade,
WTO accession in Washington

Zhaksybek Kulekeyev, Minister of Economy and Trade of Kazakhstan, visited Washington, D.C., August 14-17, to meet officials at the Commerce and State departments, US Trade and Development Agency and Office of the US Trade Representative to discuss expansion of trade between two countries, the accession to the World Trade Organization and other issues.
Kazakhstan currently negotiates its accession to the WTO with the Working Group consisting of 27 nations, including the U.S. Mr. Kulekeyev stressed that Kazakhstan is interested in joining the organization, which will be another step towards its integration into the world economic community. Accession to the WTO, however, is 'not for one or two years', and Kazakhstan is interested in careful and scrupulous discussion of basic principles of its membership based primarily on national interests. The parties agreed to further pursue an effective bilateral dialogue between Astana and Washington.
Mr. Kulekeyev, who is Kazakhstan's alternate governor in the World Bank, also met with the bank officials to discuss further cooperation, particularly, in the area of financing the reforms in law-enforcement and agricultural spheres through the bank loans.
Mr. Kulekeyev spoke at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to executives of about 40 U.S. companies and organizations. Today the U.S. companies are the largest investors in Kazakhstan, accounting for more than $4 billion out of $14 billion in FDI invested in the country so far. As one of the executives pointed out, the investment will be further encouraged by the fact that currently leading U.S. investment insurance companies, citing stable economic and political conditions, are willingly reviewing the requests for insuring up to $500 million in new investment in Kazakhstan.
Minister Kulekeyev also took part in the round table discussions at the AEI and CSIS. He stressed that strong economic growth of Kazakhstan, averaging 10% for the second consecutive year, should be attributed both to domestic factors such as rising consumer spending and demand, low inflation, constant high levels of investment over the past five years and a positive trade balance, and to the external factors - rapid growth of the global economy in 2000, vibrant global commodity markets and a generally high rate of economic expansion among the CIS countries.

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Dear readers, please find attached for your information the reports by REUTERS and Dow Jones Newswires following Mr. Kulekeyev's visit.

KAZAKH MINISTER SEES BRIGHT FUTURE FOR HIS ECONOMY
By Mark Wilkinson

WASHINGTON, Aug 16 (REUTERS) - Kazakhstan's economy will continue to flourish over the next five years, as negotiations to enter the World Trade Organization appear headed to a successful conclusion, the country's economy minister told Reuters on Thursday.
Zhaksybek Kulekeyev, in Washington to discuss Kazakhstan's economy with U.S. and international officials, said that after two years of strong economic growth -- which reached a rate of 9.6 percent last year -- the central Asian nation will continue to perform well despite the global economic slowdown.
"As far as future development of Kazakhstan's economy is concerned we are estimating that the (Gross Domestic Product) will grow over the next five years at an average of 5 percent per year at least," Kulekeyev said through a translator.
The Kazakh economy began to record high levels of growth in the second half of 1999, when prudent fiscal policies and economic initiatives were put in place. The results included a sharp reduction of inflation, which remains steady below 10 percent, a budget surplus, a stable currency and increasing employment numbers. In the first half of this year, the economy grew at 14 percent and growth is forecast to average 10 percent by the end of 2001, Kulekeyev said.
The minister was in Washington to meet with officials at the WTO to discuss Kazakhstan's possible entry into the trade organization, which he viewed as "imperative" for the country in the context of a global economy.
Kazakhstan has been negotiating entry to the WTO for five years, but Kulekeyev said that he was confident his country would be allowed to join the organization. "I am fairly confident that at some point it will be the case," he said. "I just don't want to set a timeframe for this process, we understand that we have to work hard to accommodate the conditions and we indeed undertake very forthcoming measures to do that."
Kulekeyev added that joining the WTO would benefit the Kazakh economy, whose recent success he attributed mainly to domestic factors such as rising consumer spending and demand, constant high levels of investment over the past five years and a positive trade balance that has in turn fueled demand.
He also said the vibrant global commodity market provided customers for exports of metals, copper, titanium and grain and that high oil prices had boosted its revenues. "Sixty percent of growth is attributed to local factors and forty percent to external factors," Kulekeyev said.
The minister cited international factors such as the rapid growth of the global economy, which averaged an unprecedented 5 percent in 2000, and a generally high rate of economic expansion among the Commonwealth of Independent States, which includes Belarus, Georgia, Ukraine and Tajikistan.
Kulekeyev said that in addition to a possible entry into the WTO, he is hoping for the U.S. Congress to conclude normal trade relations with Kazakhstan.
In 1974, at the height of the Cold War, the United States decided to limit trade relations with Russia, which at the time included Kazakhstan. A normal trade relations bill with the central Asian nation is currently pending in Congress, he added.


KAZAKHSTAN TRADE MINISTER: NOT PLANNING TO JOIN OPEC SOON
By Campion Walsh

WASHINGTON (Dow Jones, Aug 16)--Kazakhstan, one of the world's fastest-growing oil exporters, doesn't currently plan to join the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, the country's trade minister said Thursday.
OPEC is seeking cooperation with the former Soviet republic. The oil exporters' group has indicated much of its $15 million in financing this year for nascent oil-producing countries will go to Kazakhstan.
But Kazakhstan's Minister of Economy and Trade Zhaksybek Kulekeyev told Dow Jones Newswires the country isn't planning to join OPEC soon. "Kazakhstan has an observer status in OPEC, and I don't think we have any plans to join the cartel in the near future," Kulekeyev said.
The trade minister is visiting Washington this week to discuss issues such as steel trade and Kazakhstan's efforts to join the World Trade Organization.
Kazakhstan government officials expect oil production to rise to 40 million tons - or about 800,000 barrels a day - this year from 35 million tons last year. With the giant new Kashagan field due to begin production by 2005, they project output may exceed 100 million tons annually by 2010.
Kulekeyev said Kazakhstan continues to favor multiple export routes for its oil.
After the opening of the new Caspian Pipeline Consortium export route through Russia this year, the next-most-likely route on a purely economic basis would be through Turkmenistan and Iran, he said. "But there are obviously political aspects to this," he said.
The U.S. has tried to dissuade Caspian oil exports through Iran, blocking U.S. companies' efforts to trade through the southern Caspian country and advocating an alternative route going West through Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey.
Kulekeyev said it's up to private-sector producers in Kazakhstan to decide if they want to use the U.S.-backed route from Kazakhstan's Caspian port Aktau through Baku, Azerbaijan, and Georgia to Turkey's Mediterranean port Ceyhan.
"If this pipeline is to be built, it should start from Aktau," he said, suggesting that barging the oil across the Caspian Sea to Baku would be insufficient.
On other potential export routes, the trade minister said Kazakhstan and China National Petroleum Corp. continue early, preparatory work for a proposal to carry oil from Western Kazakhstan to China. Meanwhile, a proposal to export oil through Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan currently exists "only on paper,"  he said.

News Bulletin of the Embassy of the Republic of Kazakhstan
(Compiled from own sources and various agencies' reports)
Contact persons: Roman Vassilenko, Aibek Nurbalin
Tel.: (202) 232- 5488 ext. 104, 115
Fax:  (202) 232- 5845

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