Turkey and Kazakhstan – Two Turkic Wings of Eurasia
Mr. Taner Seben, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Turkey to Kazakhstan, answered our questions
Mister Ambassador, would you tell us about the development of commercial and economic relationships between our countries during recent years?
Turkey was the first country to recognise Kazakhstan as an independent state after 16 December 1991. Since then our countries have signed more than 80 agreements and protocols on the development of political, economic, educational and cultural relationships. The agreements On Trade, Economic and Technological Cooperation, On Mutual Assistance and Investment Protection,and On the Avoidance of Double Taxation on Income established a legal framework for economic cooperation between Turkey and Kazakhstan. As a result, the volume of trade between Turkey and Kazakhstan increased from $30m in 1993 to $797m in 2004 ($708m from January to September of 2005).
Nowadays, Turkey exports a variety of goods to Kazakhstan: food products, leather goods, detergent powders and cosmetics, furniture, industrial boilers, heating units, etc. Due to the high quality, our textiles have held a stable position in the international market. Therefore, an increase in exports of Turkish ready-made clothing to Kazakhstan is quite explainable. As for Kazakhstan, its exports mostly consist of primary products including petroleum and metals.
The vigorous activity of the Turkish-Kazakh Business Council, as well as various arrangements, fairs and exhibitions regularly held in Kazakhstan by Turkish organisations, play a crucial role in strenghtening commercial relations between the two countries. I would like to give you the following example. On 27 May 2005, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev and Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan being on an official visit in Kazakhstan, attended the opening of the Silk Road Turkish Export Goods Fair (the Silk Road Train) in Almaty. In his speech, the Kazakh President said that the volume of trade between Kazakhstan and Turkey should be increased. He also noted that the train had traveled through five countries along the ancient Silk Road that had enabled our ancestors to build up friendly and good trade relations. More than four thousand types of Turkish goods were carried by the fair train to Kazakhstan. Our country allocated $2.6m to implement this project. This demonstrates that the development of trade relations with Kazakhstan is of our great importance to Turkey.
What role do you think Turkish investments play in development of Kazakhstan’s economy?
I think that foreign businesspeople with their capital and technologies can make a significant contribution to development of the economy of any country. During recent years Turkish companies also have made large-scale investments in the manufacturing and service industries in Kazakhstan. As a result, Turkey is now among the top nine countries in terms of the volume of foreign direct investments in Kazakhstan’s economy. At the same time, your country ranks fifth in terms of the volume of capital invested by Turkey in foreign countries. As of today, Turkish investments in Kazakhstan have amounted to more than $2bn. In addition, Turkish Eximbank has provided Kazakhstan with a $240m credit line, of which $55.7m was granted to finance trade and $184m for investment projects development. At present, some 350 Turkish companies operate in Kazakhstan to provide more than ten thousand permanent jobs and income for about 40,000 Kazakhstani citizens.
What sectors of Kazakhstan’s economy are the most attractive to Turkish investors?
Turkish companies operate and actively invest in infrastructure, transport, telecommunications, production of construction materials, as well as the food, light, pharmaceutical, metal, petroleum and chemical industries. Turkish businessmen also made substantial investments in hotels and trade centers, distribution networks, automobile business, the financial sector, and education. Our countries successfully cooperate in the construction sector, where Turkish companies share their experience and technologies with Kazakhstani specialists. To date, Turkish companies have performed construction contracts in Kazakhstan to the amount of $4bn. The largest construction projects completed by Turkish contractors are the Astana International Airport, House of Parliament, Kazakhstan President’s Residence, Regent Ankara and Okan Intercontinental Astana Hotels, Children Rehabilitation Center, National Museum, Ahmed Yassaui University, twin towers in Astana, GSM telecommunication infrastructure, and the Kazakhstani section of the Tengiz-Novorossiysk pipeline, among others.
What problems do investors face when operating in Kazakhstan?
Turkish businessmen operating in your country often face an official red tape and complicated procedures of transporting employees from Turkey, issuing work licences and visas, and granting resident’s permits to foreign employees. It is no doubt that the aforesaid obstacles as well as barriers related to transportation and customs clearance, and quota and licence limitations must be removed so that our countries could achieve the goals to increase the volume of foreign trade and strengthen the economic cooperation between Turkey and Kazakhstan.
We hope that another important matter, which concerns actions allowing Turkish insurance companies to operate in Kazakhstan and which is under discussion by the Kazakhstani and Turkish government authorities, will be resolved in the near future.
Turkey has achieved a significant success in developing small and middle-sized businesses. What role does the government play in this achievement?
In fact, various small and medium-sized export-oriented companies are an important instrument for reducing unemployment and increasing our national income. The decision on government assistance in investing in small and medium-sized businesses was made by the Turkish government in 2000 and played a crucial role. In accordance with this decision, intermediary banks are granted with low interest and long term loans upon submission of investment and assistance documents to the Treasury Committee. The received funds are used as loans to invest in and operate in small and medium-sized businesses. Investments by Turkish companies operating in small and medium-sized businesses steadily grow thanks to such government assistance. I would like to note that Kazakhstan also makes remarkable efforts to develop domestic small and medium-sized businesses. Therefore, our countries have a great potential for mutual cooperation.
What common interests do you think Turkey and Kazakhstan can have apart from the economy?
Our countries have a common history, related languages, religions and cultures. Our systems of values are also similar. An increase in number of Kazakhstani and Turkish people, who hold such values and want to develop them, makes a great contribution to the stability in Eurasia. This principle provides a base for our cultural and educational cooperation.
I believe that tourism is also an effective instrument for strengthening friendship between our nations. Our embassy has participated in many tourist fairs in Kazakhstan as well as in the arrangement of Kazakhstan’s Days in Turkey. I am glad to say that Kazakhstani people express a lively interest in Turkey’s nature, historical and cultural monuments. About 80,000 Kazakhstani citizens visited our country during 2005.
Development of Human Potential in Kazakhstan:Will We Manage to Join the World's Top 50 Most Competitive Countries? Yury Shokamanov
Lifelong Construction Vladimir Kananyhin
What Investors Should Know about Construction in Almaty Stanislaw Glazkov
Distinguishing Features of the LogyCom Production Process Pavel Raspopin
Oil and Gas Producers Sum up the Results Elvira Djantureyeva
Oil of Mangistau: What Does the Current Year Have in Store? Natalya Butyrina
Development of the Caspian Shelf Requires Package Approach Anatoly Zolotukhin
Associated Gas: One Problem, Different Approaches Gulzhan Nurakhmet