THE ASTANA TIMES

Subscribe to THE ASTANA TIMES feed
Updated: 1 hour 43 min ago

BI Marathon Set for May 28 in Astana’s Triathlon Park

Tue, 2017-04-25 01:16

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

ASTANA – The annual BI Marathon is planned for May 28 in the capital’s Triathlon Park, and 300 people have already registered for the event.

Photo credit: Facebook

“This year the location of the marathon is changing to Astana’s Triathlon Park, which the BI Group company gave to the capital [as a gift] for its 18th anniversary [in 2016]. We are confident that in the coming years, the new place will be important for physically active residents and guests of the capital city,” Gaukhar Kerimova, BI Group’s public relations director, told The Astana Times.    

The park, located in the centre of the city on the right bank of the Yessil River, is a specialised area for running, bicycle racing enthusiasts and all those who make exercise part of a healthy lifestyle.

The annual marathon is growing in popularity and this year’s event has already attracted more participants than last year. Two hundred guests and about 2,500 BI Group personnel joined last year’s run – fewer than the 300 that have so far registered for the event in May, according to the race’s website, www.bi-marathon.kz.

“We have set the limit to 3,000 people based on the experience of past marathons, but we are sure that this year will have more people interested in this event,” Kerimova said.

Terms of the marathon have not changed from last year. Runners can take part in races of a variety of distances, from 1.5 kilometres to 42.195 kilometres.

The organisers hope this year will have more team races, Kerimova noted. The event includes the Ekiden team race for six participants.

“Our marathon has a happy goal: to help children with special needs who are being treated within medical and social programmes of the BI-Zhuldyzai fund,” she explained.  

Over nearly two years, about 2,000 children have undergone rehabilitation at the fund’s medical centre, and 300 of them had surgeries done by foreign specialists whom the fund regularly brings to Astana. Thirty-one children aged four to 12 who had been confined to wheelchairs have been able to take their first steps due to treatment they received through the fund, Kerimova said.

Those who want to join but feel intimidated can take advantage of free training sessions the company offers.

“We would also like to point out the training sessions held along with company paid coaches every weekday morning and evening at three parks in Astana. Full information and registration are available at the bi-marathon.kz website. Join us and run towards victory along with us!” she said.  

The post BI Marathon Set for May 28 in Astana’s Triathlon Park appeared first on The Astana Times.

National Bank has clear vision of banking sector development, says deputy chairman

Tue, 2017-04-25 01:09

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

This year, the National Bank of Kazakhstan plans to perform an independent assessment of banks’ asset quality in the country. Verification of the real situation in this sphere will give the regulator an opportunity to effectively address banks’ challenges. National Bank of Kazakhstan Deputy Chairman Oleg Smolyakov discussed these issues in an interview.

Photo credit: Kazpravda.kz

How do you assess the quality of Kazakh banks’ loan portfolio? Officially, the non-performing loan share indicators have significantly decreased during recent years. Does this statistics reflect the real situation? Some international experts think that the potential share of non-performing loans is quite high.

The banks’ portfolio quality is one of the key aspects influencing the future of the state financial market and its participants. As of early March 2017, the non-performing loans level (over 90 days of delay in payment), in accordance with banks’ reports, accounted for 7.32 percent or 1.1 trillion tenge; that is 3.8 percent lower than the maximum level set in 2014.

Banks’ reports, prepared in accordance with the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), provide for quite a significant difference in opinions of banks’ managers and auditors referring loans to the non-performing loans category.

In 2015, major macroeconomic shocks took place and had a negative impact on the financial situation and financial solvency of bank borrowers. However, banks seek to delay recognition of losses on loans, including by means of “artificial” restructuring of loans, postponing the payment. Such loans are called “evergreen” in financial circles. As a result, loans, with no payment, are not included in the non-performing category in banks’ reports. That is why the National Bank has every reason to consider that, in general, the potential volume of non-performing loans exceeds the current level stated by banks in reports.

Thus, the real banks’ asset quality requires additional assessment because of the low quality of borrowers’ financial situations, use of non-hard collateral, for example, money and property to be received in the future, affiliated companies’ certificates of insurance, guarantees of natural persons, etc., as well as non-refundable loans of shareholders’ business and concerned persons.

This situation is not specific to Kazakhstan; many regulators face it. In order to solve it, the National Bank, like regulators in other countries, plans to perform an inclusive assessment of asset quality that is usually accompanied by stress tests. An inclusive assessment of banks’ asset quality will be conducted this year using a common methodology in order to bring the assessment to a common denominator. In order to ensure fairness and credibility to the assessment, central banks of other countries have attracted independent experts. We will apply a similar approach. The banks’ asset quality assessment will be conducted by an external consultant based on the methodology developed in line with international financial reporting standards.

Understanding the scale of potential problems will give us an opportunity to approach the process of introducing the system of structured problem resolution of failed banks widely using the instruments of recapitalisation and restructuring of healthy banks and appropriate rehabilitation of unhealthy ones.

 

Members of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission, who visited Kazakhstan this year, called on the National Bank to take quite a strong stand regarding “weak” banks. Do you share this approach or are you ready to lend a helping hand to financial institutions in trouble?

President Nursultan Nazarbayev, in his latest annual state-of-the-nation address titled “Third Modernisation of Kazakhstan: Global Competitiveness,” set a task for the National Bank to develop a package of measures for the bank sector rehabilitation within the fulfilment of the task aimed at “resetting” the financial sector. In particular, we have a task of accelerating the activities aimed at cleaning banks’ balance sheets from bad loans and, if necessary, ensuring recapitalisation of banks by their shareholders.

Following the results of the activities aimed at assessing the asset quality and stress tests, appropriate measures will be undertaken according to the identified problems. First of all, they include requirements of bank recapitalisation on the part of its shareholders to increase bank sustainability. In addition, measures will include procedures of rehabilitation and settlement of problem banks. That is why the National Bank’s actions aimed at conducting stress tests provide for the creation of legal and economic conditions for efficient rehabilitation and settlement of problem banks and safest approaches ensuring fast resolution of banks’ problems without erosion of credibility to the bank system and with minimum state expenses. Timeliness and awareness in undertaking measures to banks that are not strong enough lets the regulator significantly decrease public costs aimed at ensuring financial stability. The sooner the problem is identified, the easier it is solved and fewer social and economic losses are required.

In general, the National Bank adheres to a position in accordance with which only strong and financially stable banks can operate on the market, those that are able to meet the requirements of the regulator and conduct its activities not disrupting the financial stability of the bank system. Weak banks should leave the market.

Banks wishing to stay in the bank services market in the face of the volatile economic situation in the country and the world as well as challenges facing the banking sector of Kazakhstan should take appropriate measures – to unite or recapitalise. At the same time, the National Bank supports those banks’ initiatives that will ensure stability of the entire bank system. The chosen approach corresponds to the current international practice and received positive feedback from the IMF during recent meetings and discussions on the state of the economy and the banking sector.

 

Does it mean that we can expect new consolidation processes in the banking sector this year?

I repeat that we support the initiatives launched by individual banks to unite, which will help to increase the capitalisation of banks and improve existing business processes for customer service. At the same time, on our part we are ready to provide necessary support to banks for speedy completion of integration processes aimed at increasing the efficiency of the banking business.

 

What are the conditions under which the transaction can be concluded between Halyk Bank and Kazkom?

In accordance with legislative requirements, implementation of a potential transaction will be possible only if the rights and legitimate interests of depositors, creditors, other customers and counterparties of banks under contracts, including international obligations, are respected. In order to implement a potential transaction for the purchase of the Kazkommertsbank shares by Halyk Bank, there is a need to conduct a joint independent assessment of the Kazkom assets quality on the part of the National Bank and Halyk Bank. The quantitative parameters of the potential transaction will be determined after obtaining the results of the independent assessment. However, even now we can clearly state that the basic condition for the possible entry of Halyk Bank into the Kazkom capital is recapitalisation of the financial institution to a level sufficient to ensure its smooth operation.

 

Earlier it was said that it is planned to involve the Fund for Problem Loans into the potential transaction. What will be its role in this process?

As it is known, a significant part of the Kazkommertsbank credit portfolio (over 50percent) is represented by the liabilities of the BTA Bank. At the same time, the BTA Bank assets are assets with so-called long-term horizon of cost recovery. As a result, they do not form a sufficient level of financial flows necessary for their maintenance of Kazkommertsbank. Therefore, in order to ensure the financial stability of Kazkommertsbank, it is necessary to separate the assets of the BTA Bank from Kazkommertsbank at the first stage. The Fund for Problem Loans will serve as the operator at this stage. In the future, it is necessary to ensure involvement of these assets in the economic turnover within public-private partnership projects, including regional development programmes.

 

According to the task set by President Nazarbayev, legislative amendments are being developed in Kazakhstan aimed at introducing risk-based supervision that will allow the regulator to take preventive measures against banks that have not yet violated the norms but are pursuing a risky policy. Please, give us an example of what these anticipatory actions might be.

Yes, indeed, in his latest state-of-the-nation address, President Nazarbayev set a task to work out a package of measures to rehabilitate the banking sector, to ensure a transition from a formalised approach to risk-based supervision.

The National Bank has already started developing a package of measures to rehabilitate the banking sector, within which international principles of the regulatory and supervisory process will be implemented. In particular, it is planned to strengthen activities on prevention of crisis phenomena, without waiting for the emergence of problems and risk implementation.

At present, we have approved approaches to the introduction of risk-based supervision in accordance with the methodology adopted in the European Union. These approaches provide for the development of a new supervisory model, including the identification of methods for assessing the viability of the business model and its inherent risks, risk management systems and internal control of banks, as well as internal systems for determining capital adequacy and liquidity. Risk-based supervision provides for a complete change in the system of supervisory response measures, in particular the conceptual modification of existing limited impact measures and early response measures, grounds for applying sanctions and enforcement measures. This supervisory model will allow for gradually reducing the degree of banks’ exposure to various risks by improving their management systems.

In 2017, the National Bank plans to introduce a common methodology for assessing provisions with appropriate adjustments to the bank’s capital (reducing regulatory equity by the difference between regulatory provisions and provisions under the IFRS). In addition, approaches to the assessment of bank transactions with related parties and transactions on preferential terms will be strengthened. The issues of strengthening the responsibility of auditors and appraisers for concealing information about the deterioration of the bank’s financial situation, including the ban on carrying out activities in the financial market, will also be considered.

At the same time, at the legislative level, the mandate of the National Bank will be strengthened in terms of carrying out the forced restructuring of the bank’s capital structure and simplifying the process of uniting banks.

The post National Bank has clear vision of banking sector development, says deputy chairman appeared first on The Astana Times.

New Astana railway station set to open June 1

Tue, 2017-04-25 00:59

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

ASTANA – Astana is set to open a new railway station ahead of the EXPO 2017 international specialised exhibition, to be called Nurly Zhol. The facility will open June 1, Kazakhstan Temir Zholy press service reports.

The project is divided into two stages ensuring the integration of the Astana railway junction and the construction of a railway station complex. The former implies the development of infrastructure to provide the passage of increasing freight and passenger traffic.

“Advanced innovative technologies available in the construction industry were used at a new railway station. Thus, the railway overpass equipped with noise protection screens allowed to provide the passage of trains to the new railway station, without disturbing the existing and planned transport arteries of the city,” noted  the report.

With a capacity of more than 35,000 passengers per day, the new station will significantly relieve the load from the existing station of Astana, which welcomes up to 18,000 passengers per day.

International experts from BuroHappold, British professional services firm providing engineering consultancy, Tabanlioglu Architects, an architectural firm based in Istanbul, and a team from Germany designed and implemented technical solutions to locate the station on the concourse above the railway tracks.

“This is a kind of know-how of the modern way to build the station buildings. The ‘Station bridge’ almost everywhere have replaced the station of a ‘shore’ type due to greater efficiency, compactness and more rational use of a space,” said the report.

The new station is located closer to the Astana business centre, which will significantly reduce the burden of vehicle movement and accelerate traffic.  

To ensure the safety of passengers with limited physical abilities, the facility with an area of more than 120,000 square metres will feature tactile paths, an information board with the use of the Braille and special cash desks.

In addition to the main waiting room, there will be hotel rooms, storage rooms, mother-and-child rooms, medical offices, food courts, restaurants, indoor and outdoor parking for more than 1,500 vehicles and much more services that meet the best world standards.

“The building will be equipped with energy-saving elevators, escalators and ground heat exchangers, which pre-heat the air coming from the street in the winter and cools the air in the summer. A multi-zone air conditioning system distributes cold and heat from one external unit directly to several internal ones ensuring energy efficiency,” according to the report.

Rainwater harvesting and rainwater recycling systems have been designed for the cleaning of facades and irrigation of adjacent territories.

For the convenience of passengers, modern queue management systems, electronic ticket sales and internet access are provided.

To ensure a high level of protection against threats in emergencies, security staff will carry out a wide range of anti-terrorist activities. Facility will be equipped with passenger screening, video surveillance and access control systems. Security staff will operate inside and outside the facility to ensure 24-hour monitoring.  

The new station will provide more than 1,300 people with jobs.

General construction will be completed May 15 and during the next two weeks all tests of engineering communications, intelligent train control system as well as passenger services will be carried out.

The post New Astana railway station set to open June 1 appeared first on The Astana Times.

More than 13,000 run in Almaty international charity marathon

Tue, 2017-04-25 00:37

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

ASTANA – An international charity marathon took place April 23 in Almaty.

During the last several years, the event has become a landmark not only of Almaty, but of Kazakhstan as well. This large Central Asian sporting event, eagerly awaited by thousands, has become an annual holiday promoting an active lifestyle, health and charity.

More than 13,000 individuals registered and received bib numbers, while about 15,000 people in total ran through the streets of the city. Participants passed 3 km (children aged 10-14), 10 km, 21.1 km (half marathon), 42.2 (marathon), 10 km (Nordic walking) and a team relay marathon of 42 kilometres, 195 metres.

“This is one of the biggest sporting events in Central Asia. We see that every year it is gaining momentum. We not only do sports, but we also help children with the money that was raised today. More than 500,000 Almaty residents do sports today and about 1,000 sporting events are held in our city. As the President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev said, ‘only a healthy nation can be competitive, so I wish everyone success and to feel a unified sports spirit,’” said Almaty Akim (Mayor) Bauyrzhan Baibek in his remarks before the start of the marathon.

Various people ran through the streets, including company managers, students, show business stars and even professional athletes, such as 2012 Olympic champion Alexander Vinokourov.

The finish line and awards ceremony took place at Central Stadium. Nikolai Grigorov and Polina Repina won the marathon and received cash prizes of 350,000 tenge (US$ 1,123). Amir Baitukanov from Ust-Kamenogorsk and Aidyn Kassen from the capital claimed second and third place, respectively, in the men’s marathon. Alyona Uvarova, of Almaty, came in second and Mariya Kireyeva, of Semey, took third in the women’s event. All participants were awarded memorable finisher medals and the winners received medals, certificates of merit and gifts from partners.

“This is the sixth time our city gathered lovers of a healthy lifestyle at the start of the Almaty Marathon, which has a significant impact on the city’s sports tourism. Every year, people are becoming more interested in mass sports events. The marathon has become one of the most anticipated annual sports and charity events. This year, the funds received from the entry fees will be sent to six specialised institutions, in which 1,500 children with serious illnesses study and receive treatment,” said marathon director Saltanat Kazybayeva.

 

The post More than 13,000 run in Almaty international charity marathon appeared first on The Astana Times.

South Korea inspects its EXPO 2017 pavilion, will showcase latest energy technology

Tue, 2017-04-25 00:29

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

ASTANA – President and Chief Executive Officer of the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA) Jaehong Kim and Astana EXPO 2017 national company Chairman Akhmetzhan Yessimov agreed to cooperate on the event during an April 19 visit to the expo site. Kim visited the site to check on construction of the Korean pavilion.

President and CEO of Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency Jaehong Kim with Astana EXPO 2017 Chairman Akhmetzhan Yessimov

“The Korean pavilion at Astana EXPO 2017 will be a memorable place for visitors and they will have an opportunity to experience the latest Korean technologies and culture with the accompaniment of the Energy Seed,” said the KOTRA president and CEO.

Astana EXPO 2017 is the first international exhibition hosted by a Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) country. It will be held June 10 to Sept. 10 under the theme Future Energy. One-hundred-and-fifteen countries have confirmed their participation and are expected to showcase the latest in energy technology. Korea is expected to have one of the largest pavilions under the theme of Future Energy, Smart Life.

The main concept of the Korean pavilion follows a timeline of how one becomes an energy-efficient citizen by developing new renewable energy technology, constructed closely by the Energy Seed, the core source of all energy. South Korea will also promote Korean culture through K-Wave performances and events.
The Korean pavilion is expected to enhance relations and energy-related industry relationships with CIS countries, known for their abundant natural resources.

The post South Korea inspects its EXPO 2017 pavilion, will showcase latest energy technology appeared first on The Astana Times.

Singapore sees Kazakhstan as regional transport hub, says trade minister

Tue, 2017-04-25 00:00

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

ALMATY — Minister of State for Trade and Industry of Singapore Dr. Koh Poh Koon led a large business delegation to Almaty  April 19-22, as part of the Future China Advanced Leaders Programme. The delegation consisted of the State Minister for Communications and Information and Health of Singapore Chee Hong Tat, IE Singapore (International Enterprise Singapore), Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB), as well as Singaporean companies representing the agri-business, construction, education, energy, finance, manufacturing and real estate sectors.

The aim of the visit was to explore development and business prospects in Kazakhstan, one of the core countries in the Silk Road Economic Belt initiative.

One of the main highlights of the trip was the Almaty-Singapore Business Forum, which was attended by Akim (Mayor) of Almaty city Baurzhan Baibek and leading Almaty-based companies.

Participants of the forum covered investment and business opportunities in infrastructure projects, especially within the Silk Road Economic Belt. 

During the forum, State Minister for Communications and Information and Health of Singapore Chee Hong Tat stated that among all Central Asian countries, Kazakhstan is a leader in terms of economic development. According to Chee Hong Tat, Kazakhstan has a great potential to play a significant role in ensuring regional development, which provides good opportunities for investments within Eurasian Economic Union from South-East Asian economies. He stressed that Kazakhstan is an important onland hub, while Singapore is an important sea gate within the One Belt-One Road initiative, which can be efficiently utilised in joint investment projects.

Speaking at the forum, Baibek stressed that Kazakhstan is a country that has a significant transit and transport potential. Its unique geographic position opens up huge economic opportunities for the country.

In turn, Dr. Koh Poh Koon stated that Kazakhstan is of great interest for Singapore. Its unique location on the Great Silk Road makes it a gateway to Central Asia and the market of the Eurasian Economic Union. The delegation came to Almaty to understand what role Almaty will play in the future and to implement plans for cooperation, he said, adding that given its transport-logistics, railways and communication advantages, Kazakhstan is considered a “safety belt” in the New Silk Road Economic Belt. Therefore, Kazakhstan is a very important partner for Singapore and for those intending to do business in this part of the world, he noted.

Following the forum, the leadership of the Almaty Socio-Entrepreneurial Corporation (SEC) signed an agreement on premium membership in the Singapore-based Kazakhstan – Asia-Pacific Trade & Investment Chamber (KAPTIC).

 

The post Singapore sees Kazakhstan as regional transport hub, says trade minister appeared first on The Astana Times.

SCO foreign ministers lay groundwork for June summit in Astana

Sat, 2017-04-22 08:20

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

ASTANA – Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) member state foreign ministers met April 21 in Astana to prepare for the June 8-9 meeting of the heads of member states.

The Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) agreed on a draft agenda for the Council of Heads of State, which would take place in Astana on the eve of the opening of the Astana EXPO 2017 international specialised exhibition. They also agreed on a SCO Astana Declaration draft and a list of documents to be submitted for signature during the heads of state meeting.

They also discussed the upcoming accession to the SCO of India and Pakistan, which is expected to take place during the Astana summit and to increase the organisation’s international influence and credibility. The group also addressed strengthening regional security, fighting terrorism and extremism, combating drug trafficking and developing cooperation within the expanded organisation.

Kazakhstan has chaired the SCO since June 2016 and Kazakh Foreign Minister Kairat Abdrakhmanov reminded the group of the priorities laid out during the previous head of states meeting by Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, including strengthening regional security, developing economic cooperation, unlocking transit and transport capacity and deepening cultural and humanitarian ties in the context of the SCO Development Strategy 2025.

Addressing his colleagues from China, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan at a meeting that took place at the Kazakh Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Abdrakhmanov also focused on economic and cultural-humanitarian cooperation within the organisation. He noted that SCO representatives will participate in a number of upcoming events in Kazakhstan, including EXPO 2017, the 11th week of education in Astana, Festival of Arts and the SCO Youth Forum themed Development of Green Economy, Tourism and Sports.

The meeting was also attended by SCO Secretary General Rashid Alimov and Director of the Executive Committee of the SCO Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS SCO) Yevgeniy Sysoyev, among others.

Later in the day, the Kazakh President received the participants of the meeting, including Alimov, Sysoyev, Abdrakmanov, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Kyrgyz Foreign Minister Erlan Abdyldaev, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Tajik Foreign Minister Sirodjidin Aslov, and Uzbek Foreign Minister Abdulaziz Kamilov.

Nazarbayev noted the importance of the ministerial meeting on the threshold of the organisation’s summit in Astana.

“As SCO chairman, Kazakhstan attaches great importance to the upcoming summit of the organisation in June in Astana. Our chairmanship is going on in  a time of complicated processes in the region and in the world,” he said.

Nazarbayev noted a number of issues on the SCO agenda, including increasing efforts to approve the SCO Cooperation Concept on Environmental Protection, sign the SCO Convention on Countering Extremism and adopt the statement on this issue and the anti-drug strategy of the organisation’s member countries.

“The economic and cultural-humanitarian cooperation within the SCO is crucial. One more important issue of the upcoming summit’s agenda is adoption of a decision on finalising the procedure of accepting India and Pakistan to full-fledged membership in the SCO. The adoption of the Astana Declaration, which will define our future plans is planned too,” he noted.

The post SCO foreign ministers lay groundwork for June summit in Astana appeared first on The Astana Times.

Race car enthusiast plans to construct Lotus Seven

Sat, 2017-04-22 08:15

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

ASTANA – Artyom Abishev, a young race car enthusiast from Almaty, has decided to bring his hobby to a new level. He plans to push his project to construct a Lotus Seven locally via a crowdfunding platform.

“Lotus Seven is a lightweight two-seater open-top sports car created by the Lotus company engineer. Over time, many companies started assembling that car, as well as people in their garages, since it has a simple frame construction and was universal for all rear-drive platforms of engine – transmission – propeller shaft – drivetrain,” said Abishev in an interview with The Astana Times.

He works as a technical specialist in lubricants and technical maintenance and has always been interested in constructing race cars.

“A large ring road is being built at the Sokol racetrack [in the Almaty region] and people are testing their vehicles on a small karting track by taking part in competitions. In fact, the term ‘track day’ has been used for a long time in the West. That’s when instead of shashlik, billiards or bowling, people sit down in their special cars and go to the nearest track. We do not have such tracks and there will be one soon. But after it appears, how will people go there? People would not like to use expensive elite sports cars; their tires cost more than $2,000 and it is an expense for only one day. Well, some may be interested in spending $2,000-3,000,” said Abishev.

Because of its light weight, Lotus Seven has great characteristics in the ring and is much cheaper. Abishev needs 3.8 million tenge (US$12,130) for the project and the car can be constructed in six months.

“In general, we would like to create one piece to understand whether we are able to realise the algorithm of the sports product of small value for our auto-moto fans, since in the West small enterprises producing such machines for people who ride in the ring have been working for a long time. The car will be something like a cue for billiards or a bowling ball,” he said.

He admits there are probably other ways of financing, but crowdfunding is a great way to review the market.

“We are going along the path of small resistance, while checking whether our product is interesting to the customers,” he added.

Abishev is not the only one in the race car business, as he has fellow enthusiasts. 

“This is our daring dream – the production and service of these cars. It is difficult to say exactly about the capacity we are planning; the main thing would be demand, but it is possible to go to any capacity. Our buyer is anyone who likes to drive cars and motorsport,” he said.

The main difficulty he faces, he feels, is the way people think.

“People expect everything should pay off and make a profit immediately after investing. I would classify it as greed and unwillingness to develop their own country,” he added.

Abishev wants to implement a successful algorithm for the creation of a narrowly-focused Kazakh product to support domestic motor sport, which means creating an inexpensive and competitive race car.

The post Race car enthusiast plans to construct Lotus Seven appeared first on The Astana Times.

Kazakh President praises EXPO 2017 preparations

Sat, 2017-04-22 08:11

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

ASTANA – Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarvayev praised preparations for EXPO 2017 during an April 21 visit to the Expo site.

“Official opening of the exhibition will take place on June 9. The readiness of EXPO 2017 is at a final stage. The excellent holding of the exhibition will demonstrate to the world the community achievements of an independent Kazakhstan,” said Nazarbayev at the meeting on socio-economic development of Astana and preparation for the exhibition attended by Astana Akim (Mayor) Asset Issekeshev, Chairperson  of the Astana EXPO 2017 national company Akhmetzhan Yessimov, Kazakh Minister of Energy Kanat Bozumbayev and Minister of Internal Affairs Kalmykhanbet Kassymov, among others.

The President emphasised that Astana should become one of the best cities in the world, convenient and comfortable for living. In this regard, Nazarbayev gave instructions to further develop the capital.

“It is necessary to introduce modern digital technologies in all areas of urban management. The government should define Astana as the main platform for the introduction of digital technologies,” the head of state said.

According to his instructions, the International Technopark of IT startups will be launched on the expo site. Nazarbayev also instructed to develop the city following the example of Dubai, Hong Kong and Singapore and to create on its base a financial and business hub on the scale of the Eurasian space.

“There are 2,700 foreign companies working in Astana. They invested about 3.2 billion US dollars in the city’s economy. At the same time, the existing opportunities are not fully used. The potential of the special economic zone of Astana is involved weakly. The further development of the capital must take into account the urbanisation processes. By 2030, its population may grow by another one million people. This puts the city’s task of ensuring productive employment through the creation of new permanent jobs,” Nazarbayev said.

The President also pointed out that Astana has a significant potential to become a tourist centre and instructed the government together with mayors to develop the capital’s tourism. Nazarbayev also emphasised the need to create roadside services for tourists who arrive by car.

The head of state also focused on the preparation process of cultural and mass events in the days of the exhibition, the safety of guests and residents of the capital and the level of preparedness of volunteers to meet visitors.

EXPO 2017 will take place in Astana from June 10 through September 10, 2017.

The post Kazakh President praises EXPO 2017 preparations appeared first on The Astana Times.

Kazakhfilm to complete filming of “Mir Mechty” in May

Sat, 2017-04-22 08:08

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

ASTANA – A feature film named “Mir Mechty” (“The World Of Dreams”) produced by the Aimanov Kazakhfilm studio by an order from Kazakh Ministry of Culture and Sports will complete filming in May, the press service of Kazakhfilm informs.

“’One of my friends who lives in Saint Petersburg told me that there is a writer named Daniyar Sugralinov in Kazakhstan and that I have to meet him. But I didn’t give much thought to it back then,” Sharipov shared.

“’I got acquainted with his work by chance and we met each other only during summer of the last year. We did not plan to make a film out of this book. We kept the main motive and tried to present it in a more cinematographic way,” he said.

A feature film tells the story of a man who tries to change his life. The plot of the film is based on a book of Kazakh writer Daniyar Sugralinov named “Kirpichi 2.0” (“Building Blocks 2.0”).

Farkhat Sharipov is known for films like the 2010 drama “Skaz o Rozovom Zaitse” (“Tale of a Pink Hare”), the 2013 comedy “Inoplanetyane ni pri Chem’’ (“Not the Fault of Aliens”) and “Akzhol.”

The film will be shot in Almaty. Among young candidates, Dulyga Akmolda was confirmed for the main role. Yerzhan Tusupov, Gulzhamal Kazakhbayeva, Assel Kaliyeva and other actors will participate in the film as well.

“Before filming began, the director was preparing us for quite a long time. We rehearsed every scene with him. The main character is close to my heart because he is simple. I myself did not encounter such situations the main hero faced but I know people who did,” Akmolda shared.

Post production, editing, colour correction and dubbing on “Mir Mechty” will begin shortly after May with a wide release planned by the end of the year.

The post Kazakhfilm to complete filming of “Mir Mechty” in May appeared first on The Astana Times.

Almaty, Astana children’s camps offer healthy activities

Sat, 2017-04-22 08:03

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

ASTANA – Summer is almost around the corner and it is time for the holidays all children anticipate. The Astana Times has compiled a list of the best children’s camps near Almaty and the capital city.

Located in picturesque forests of the Borovoye resort area on the shores of Katarkol Lake, Kontinent children’s therapeutic centre offers a swimming pool, extensive educational programmes and many kinds of leisure and outdoor activities for children from seven to 15 years old.

“A multifaceted programme will not bore anyone. It has games and competitions, walks to the forest and a lakeside, excursions, disco, sports activities, swimming and a stage performance that will energise children for the whole next study year,” Pandaland.kz writes.

The Baldauren camp is a national educational and recreational centre that operates all year round and welcomes nearly 300 children every couple of weeks and every 20 days during a study year.

Children will enjoy modern living and study conditions here. All rooms are well equipped and have shower units with massage inside.

Five times a day, meals and healthy activities, such as massage, gala camera (a room where one breezes in salts), therapy tanks and medicinal baths, saunas and cocktails are offered, according to the website.

School children aged eight to 15 years old are welcome. The Kazakh Ministry of Education and Science distributes holiday packages for this camp.

The Baldauren camp was awarded the European Quality award in 2009 in Oxford city. The camp is located in the town of Schuchinsk in the Burabai region.

The Hilton children’s camp invites all children to develop their English language skills. Children will find their own group according to age and language level.

Kids will be offered a video library that contains dozens of English language feature films and cartoons. Apart from language courses, children play interesting games, sing traditional and modern English language songs, make mini plays and other various activities. Shows, carnivals, parodies and costume balls are also held.

Located 20 minutes from the intersection of Navoi and Al-Farabi streets (Almaty), on spacious land with clean mountain air, the Chamberlain Country Club and Camp is an active and interesting place for children to spend their summer holidays.

A daily training programme includes hands-on and theoretical lessons. The programme incorporates natural horsemanship and agility methods.

The children here stay in a freshly built complex in a new building and spacious rooms with mountain views. A horse barn, an outdoor training arena and more is available for horse riding activities, according to almata.kz.

The programme of this camp also has football and volleyball training, an indoor swimming pool, various workshops, a concert, a bonfire and other sports and recreation activities.

Ak Bastau is another children’s recreational camp located in Almaty’s Karagaily micro district, 23 Makatayev Street.

Spending time in fresh air daily, playing football, volleyball, basketball, tennis, receiving therapeutic and recreational treatments, sitting in an air salt room and meeting new friends will make the child’s stay pleasant and enhance their health, according to the website.

This camp also serves goat’s milk that is considered an “elixir of life.”

The post Almaty, Astana children’s camps offer healthy activities appeared first on The Astana Times.

Saka stone houses in Central Kazakhstan shed light on Kazakh nomadic culture, archaeologist says

Sat, 2017-04-22 05:18

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

ASTANA – The study of the settlements of the Saka, also referred to as Scythians, ancient tribes that lived in what is now modern-day Kazakhstan, is one of the main tasks for Kazakh archaeologists seeking to fill in the blank spots of the region’s history.

Excavations in Central Kazakhstan have determined that ancient tribes made stone dwellings in the region more than 2,500 years ago.

According to Arman Beisenov, head of the department of primitive archaeology of the Alkey Margulan Institute of Archaeology, the studies of stone dwellings became possible through the qualitative improvement of archaeology in Kazakhstan not so long ago.

Since Kazakhstan’s independence, archaeologists have been grappling with the task of studying an ancient history. The programme “Madeni Mura” (Cultural Heritage) gave a powerful impetus to archaeology in the country, and the series of discoveries of mounds filled with golden artefacts raised the questions of who made those amazing artefacts, and where?

This interest led to the discovery in Central Kazakhstan of more than 50 places with remnants of stone buildings used for residential and household purposes in the Saka era. The main materials were obtained in the Karaganda region and neighbouring regions.

“The findings came from the time of the Saka culture; it is approximately the eighth to fifth century B.C. A comparison with materials from North Kazakhstan, Zhetysu, and Mountain Altai regions, gave an additional and convincing vector of evidence. In addition, we received radiocarbon dates from several foreign centres in St. Petersburg, Kiev and Belfast. There is no doubt that the Sakas lived in Central Kazakhstan,” Beisenov said in an interview with Kazakhstanskaya Pravda newspaper.

In Beisenov’s words, the known Saka houses were rectangular, reached about 10 to 15 metres in length and were 8 to 10 metres wide. It is supposed that the houses were two metres in height, but with their massive walls of more than a metre in width, internal space would have been quite limited.

The Sakas used the technique of the Andronovo era of filling gaps between two rows of large slabs with small stones and earth. Half a century ago, Margulan and other Kazakh anthropologists noted the use of this technique in houses from the Bronze Age. Andronovo masonry, a stable construction tradition, was used after the Sakas, too.

The area of ​​the studied dwellings is about 50 to 70 square metres, according to Beisenov. The residences were inhabited by 10 to 12 people and most of the settlements have up to three buildings. It turns out that small communities of closely related families lived in the settlements, a hypothesis confirmed by ethnographic materials.

The archaeological finds show that more than 2,500 years ago, the way of life of different peoples in Central Kazakhstan was very similar to the Kazakh one for centuries afterwards. The clan consisted of small communities. In winter, they lived in wintertime settlements, and in summer, they went to river valleys, living nomadically in folded yurts.

The Kazakh anthropologist said that the foundation of the economy of the ancients was cattle breeding. The findings from the elite Saka mounds of Taldy-2, Karashoky and Sherubai show that people there mastered metallurgy and metalworking well. In excavated settlements in the Yedirei and Karakuys mountains, there have been found numerous fragments of stone hoes and grain growers, which indicate the development of agriculture. These people are thought to have occupied an ancient social stratum known to Kazakhs as “zhatak” (recumbent, immovable). In the winter, Kazakh zhataks stayed with their families in their houses, while other residents went to zhailau (pastures) to let their cattle graze. The zhatak’s duties included guarding, refurbishing houses and cultivating fields with wheat and millet near the settlement. After the return of the community, everybody went harvesting.

“Our studies of settlements and dwellings of Central Kazakhstan are aimed at the future. Just a week ago, our colleagues from the Royal University of Belfast in the United Kingdom told me about the progress in analysing materials found in Central Kazakhstan. The results of the studies of the samples of bone tissue of people buried in Taldy-2, Akbeit and other mounds proved that their diet included millet. As you can see, the most interesting things are ahead,” Beisenov said.

The post Saka stone houses in Central Kazakhstan shed light on Kazakh nomadic culture, archaeologist says appeared first on The Astana Times.

Kazakhstan improves four slots to 81st in WEF’s Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index

Fri, 2017-04-21 00:50

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

ASTANA – Kazakhstan improved its position by four spots to 81st in the latest World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index.

The index is published biannually and compares 136 economies on factors and policies enabling sustainable travel and tourism development, which contributes to the development and competitiveness of a country, according to the WEF report.

The index is based on the four sub-indexes, 14 categories and individual indicators.

The top 10 countries in this year’s index are Spain, France, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia, Italy, Canada and Switzerland respectively.

Approximately 4,559,500 people visit Kazakhstan annually and spend an average of $336, according to the report. Kazakhstan’s travel and tourism industry GDP is approximately $3 billion, which is 1.6 percent of the total GDP. Approximately 150,585 people are employed in the industry, which is 1.7 percent.

The index ranks Kazakhstan sixth in health and hygiene, the country’s highest ranking in the index. Kazakhstan’s low HIV-positive population and absence of malaria contributed to the high-ranking in that category.

Kazakhstan’s second-best ranking, 8th, was in price competitiveness. That category examines ticket taxes and airport charges, hotel prices, purchasing power parity and fuel prices level.

The WEF ranks Kazakhstan’s business environment 36th in the world. Out of many indices in that category, Kazakhstan showed good results in time required to receive construction permits, costs to start a business and tax rates.

Kazakhstan’s information and communications technologies (ICT) readiness was ranked 52nd with safety and security 58th. Human resources and the labour market ranked 47th.

The three worst results were reached in international openness at 113th, environmental sustainability at 99th and tourist service infrastructure at 97th.

International openness included visa requirements, openness of bilateral air service agreements and the number of regional trade agreements in force.

Environmental sustainability was assessed poorly mainly due to low indicators in environment treaty ratification and baseline water stress.

The report shows that within the tourist service infrastructure pillar, quality of tourist infrastructure and the presence of major car rental companies dragged it down.

In the Eurasian region, Kazakhstan is in fourth place after Russia (43rd in the global rank), Georgia (70) and Azerbaijan (71). The country is followed by Armenia (84), Tajikistan (107) and the Kyrgyz Republic (115).

“The Eurasian sub-region [the report refers to the whole region as Europe and Eurasia] faces issues relating to international openness and transport infrastructure. Yet this sub-region boasts more qualified and efficient human resources while, at the same time, providing more price competitive options, thanks to lower hotel prices and fuel costs,” stated the report.

The post Kazakhstan improves four slots to 81st in WEF’s Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index appeared first on The Astana Times.

Science, technology and math necessary for students to be globally competitive, says university director general

Fri, 2017-04-21 00:46

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

ASTANA – It seems economics and law have been eternally popular and cliché fields to study and work in former Soviet Union countries. The notion that one is guarantied a job afterwards has been fading away, however, with the arrival of the digital era and a competitive new world ruled by science and technology.

Photo credit: ucentralasia.org

“People go with law and economics because these are easy to do. They are concerned about getting a piece of paper rather than what they are going to do afterwards in life,” Bohdan Krawchenko, Director General at the University of Central Asia, told The Astana Times. The University of Central Asia, established under an agreement with Aga Khan Foundation, has campuses in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

Most people who graduate from law school do not practice law or ultimately work in places that have nothing to do with the field. He noted universities offer law and economics courses because they get students, but economics departments do not train economists.

“It’s from ‘narodnoye hozyaistvo’, or national economy, and used to train people for Gosplan (the agency that was responsible for central economic planning in the Soviet Union),” he said.

Bohdan Krawchenko

“I have relatives who have earned these degrees and they don’t know anything. They are not even good accountants. They don’t have to take courses to become accountants. I think, it is first of all, something that is not sustainable,” he added.

Societies need people in all kinds of technical fields, but the director noted students do not go into certain areas because there is a very significant drop in mathematical skills. Many people avoid engineering, computer science or “real” economics where one needs to know calculus and other such skills because they do not know math and instead go into areas where it is not needed.

Krawchenko believes in today’s society, where technology is critically important, one must have some sort of math background and it is unfortunate many do not have it. High schoolers receive very little preparation in terms of career choices and as a result are left on their own.

“Thousands of students graduate from medicine and are not particularly good doctors, but smart kids understand there are other areas and subjects that they should go into,” he said.

Besides, not everyone has the skill and talent to become a specialist in a science field. Some are told to follow their heart and do what they like or go with what they can do best.

Krawchenko argues we cannot have a society, however, that plans to give up on science and technology, nor, he suggests, should everyone go into a technical field. He instead is talking about colossal disproportions, such as an IT industry that cannot grow because there are not enough good programmers.

Photo credit: ucentralasia.org

He believes there is also a valid reason for people to study history, literature, language and related subjects, but it is better done the hard way, like learning Chinese so one can read Chinese sources.

He feels Kazakhstan’s achievement in math is exceptional.

“This is a competitive world and competitive brains mean one has to work at it in whatever field he or she is in. Making a film isn’t easy, either. I think it’s also a question of how mathematics is taught in school,” he said.

“It means that this is the society that is going to be competitive. Not everybody is going to rush into science, but when I went to school you couldn’t get into a university unless you had done math, physics, chemistry or biology. If you want to be globally competitive, you really have to do something with science, technology, mathematics and these sorts of fields,” he added.

Business and international relations are also quite popular choices among undergraduates in Kazakhstan and abroad. Some are lucky to find a job and build a career while others struggle, because there are many business graduates in the market.

“We have something that is called a school of professional and continuing education that teaches non-degree programmes. Since 2007, we have graduated over 100,000 people. We teach entrepreneurship and business and have been very successful in opening up 60 companies, because what we also taught them is a technological idea. So you didn’t just complete a business course, but you had to have a business plan in your head,” he said.

The pre-condition of entering the programme is that one has a business idea of value and the director noted it is fascinating how people picked up on the idea. Concepts range from how to grow vegetables to managing massive poultry farms or mini dairies.

“One guy opened up a mobile repair all over the place; another specialises in waste treatment. It’s not like one more shop or one more café. For example, in Tekeli we are going to have business and management right next to an engineering faculty,” said Krawchenko.

Many people are good at technology but terrible at business, while there are those who excel in business and have no clue about technology, he noted. Therefore, one focus of the school’s business course is going to be “for people in business to understand technology.”

“Also, if you look at businesses that have grown, that is because they have found some new technological niche. You don’t have to do linear algebra all the time; it’s a different mind-set,” he said.

The post Science, technology and math necessary for students to be globally competitive, says university director general appeared first on The Astana Times.

Kyzylorda volunteers cultivate concern for others, present inclusive theatre production

Fri, 2017-04-21 00:38

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

ASTANA – A Kyzylorda volunteer organisation held a charity concert April 21 as part of the social programme to help rehabilitate and socialise individuals with physical challenges. The inclusive theatre and wheelchair dance troupe presented its debut performance.

Team of Kyzylorda volunteers

“We decided to arrange a concert to support our unique projects – the inclusive theatre and wheelchair partner dancing. Our performers have problems with transportation. They do not have the opportunity to get to a specialised bus. So, they proposed an idea to organise a concert and use the funds collected to purchase a minivan. Soloists of the special dance project have already taken part in other events. Their performance created a furore at a youth ball recently,” organisation head Olga Chebakova told The Astana Times.

The group, called Kyzylorda Volunteers, was launched in January 2015 when local enthusiasts decided to unite and create a like-minded community.

Olga Chebakova

“There was no such thing as volunteering in our city. No one understood what it meant, what should be done. I had a volunteering experience as I helped the organisations at various events and worked with public funds. We decided to work purposefully in this direction and therefore we opened our own organisation. United Nations volunteer Nikita Shabayev from Astana came to us at the end of 2015. We collaborated for a year. I am grateful for getting to know him. He consulted with us on various issues,” she said.

The organisation does not work in one specific direction and tries to help everyone. Earlier, they addressed different social groups with a proposal to help them. Now, people come to them directly for assistance.

Chebakova, an entrepreneur who owns a printing company, noted the main goal is to attract people’s attention.

“We visited a rural foster house and held several events there. We conducted master classes and trainings with children. Our activities made society pay attention to this centre. Then, other organisations started to offer their help in organising other activities. We visited the children’s and adult rehabilitation centres and an oncology hospital. The activities with the physically challenged are of special importance for us,” she said.

The volunteers conduct all their activities without the support of the akimat (local executive body) or sponsors, working instead with partners from public funds and associations. All the projects are widely covered by local media.

Four coordinators initially developed plans and organised activities. Now, the main team consists of 10-15 people of various age categories, a project head, coordinator and consultant.

“When we have an event, the coordinator conducts meetings, then notifies volunteers about the project. We also invite other participants through social networks such as Vkontakte and Facebook. People fill out the questionnaire and automatically receive the newsletter about the event. After the event, we also provide photo and video reports,” she said.

Chebakova feels helping someone is a path of spiritual purification, making life’s challenges seem more bearable.

“I never thought I would be a volunteer. Now, the volunteering takes most of my time; on the contrary, I work when I have spare time. When I began to communicate with people with disabilities, my personal problems faded into the background. We forget how to enjoy life and simple things in our daily routine. We are obsessed with our problems and do not notice people who need help and attention. I see a sense of respect, gratitude and joy in people’s eyes and it is really inspiring,” she said.

The attitude towards the volunteer movement in Kyzylorda has changed. People have become more interested and ready to help.

“We would like to promote volunteering in schools next year. We plan to conduct trainings in this direction. I plan to make a project on voluntary groups. Volunteers have a completely different world view. Volunteering leads to success. Young philanthropists find a good job and new hobbies easily,” she said.

The post Kyzylorda volunteers cultivate concern for others, present inclusive theatre production appeared first on The Astana Times.

Ab-Initio training programme’s first cadets become pilots

Fri, 2017-04-21 00:28

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

ASTANA – The first six cadets of Air Astana’s Ab-Initio training programme recently became pilots, reported Kapital.kz. Having flown six years as a co-pilot, Roman Suleimanov is one of the first graduates and has now been appointed as a pilot.

Photo credit: tengrinews.kz

“I believe our pilots from Kazakhstan are as good as foreigners; our training is not inferior to theirs. Our airline company has high safety and flight operation standards acknowledged throughout the global aviation industry. As a matter of fact, civil aviation in Kazakhstan is flourishing now,” he said, according to the news report.

In the midst of the 2008 shortage of professional local personnel, Air Astana made the decision to train talented young people in aeronautics and launched Ab-Initio (“from the beginning”).

The programme is held according to European standards and includes 14 theoretical subjects and summer training. Former cadets receive an EASA (European Aviation Safety Agency) ATPL (Airline Transport Pilot Licence) recognised by Kazakh aviation authorities. Residents aged 18-34 with a good knowledge of the English language, physics and math skills can try their chance to become pilots.

The process of shortlisting participants, held on an on-going basis, incorporates several stages. The approximately 20 best candidates who pass all levels receive an opportunity every year to train in the world’s best flight schools.

The training lasts 16-18 months and on average amounts to $100,000, with the airline depositing 100 percent of the upfront fee for the programme and not demanding any financial warranties from students, noted Kapital.kz.

A cadet must compensate half the cost to the company during his working practice. Less than 50 percent from a cadet’s salary is withheld monthly.

A total of 186 Kazakh residents have completed the programme and now work as co-pilots for Air Astana. Enrolment is conducted throughout the year, with about 20 students annually sent for training.

“This programme contributes to selecting the most talented people in the ranks of pilots of civil aviation,” said Viktor Chugai, who has become an Airbus A320 pilot.

Berdykhan Agmurov, Talgat Akhmetov, Dmitry Petin and Timur Turgambayev were also among the first cadets to become pilots. All carry out flights on Airbus A320 airplanes.

Two more pilots who have completed the programme are currently undergoing on-the-job training under the supervision of instructors and are to be employed as pilots by the end of April.

The post Ab-Initio training programme’s first cadets become pilots appeared first on The Astana Times.

Kazakh trade with EAEU member states grows

Thu, 2017-04-20 09:22

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

Kazakhstan’s trade with its allies within the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) is growing, according to the press service of the Ministry of Energy of Kazakhstan, outlining mineral products as dominant in the structure of the country’s exports.

“In January-February 2017, Kazakh mutual trade with the EAEU member countries was $2.5 billion, which is 56 percent more than in January-February 2016, including exports of $742 million (an increase by 42.6 percent), and imports of $1.8 million (62.2 percent more),” the official press release of the Kazakh Ministry of Energy said.

Kazakhstan’s exports are dominated by mineral products at 38.5 percent of the exports to the EAEC countries; metals and metal products, 34.8 percent; chemical products, 13.3 percent and animal and vegetable products along with easy-to-cook food products, 7.6 percent.

Among the imported goods from the EAEU there are chemicals at 23.0 percent; mineral products, 20.6 percent; machinery and equipment, 19.7 percent; metals and goods made of metal, 12 percent and 9 percent; products made of animals and vegetables and finished food products, 11.8 percent.

According to the official data, the EAEU has an integrated market of some 183 million people and a gross domestic product of more than $4 trillion. The EAEU allows a free movement of goods, capital, services and people and provides for common policies in the macroeconomic sphere, transportation, industry and agriculture, energy, foreign trade and investment, customs, technical regulation, competition and antitrust regulations.

There have been talks of introducing a single currency, however, no definitive agreement has been reached. The EAEU has supranational and intergovernmental institutions: the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council (SEEC) is the supreme body consisting of the heads of the member-states. The second level of intergovernmental institutions is represented by the Eurasian Intergovernmental Council consisting of the prime ministers of the member-states.

The EAEU has been seeking ways to play a bigger role in trade with East Asia. EAEU representatives have thus far commenced talks for official trade cooperation with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). EAEU members have also agreed to step up talks to strengthen cooperation with China, including in a format of exchange on goods and services and to set up expert groups to develop preferential trade regimes with Israel and India. It already has a free trade agreement with Vietnam.

The EAEU member states are Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic and Russia.

 

The post Kazakh trade with EAEU member states grows appeared first on The Astana Times.

Kazakh TV productions to be broadcast in Kyrgyzstan

Thu, 2017-04-20 09:15

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

ASTANA – Kazakhstan’s leading producer of television miniseries, the National Tele-Radio Corporation Kazakhstan (Kazakhstan TV), has agreed to broadcast its work on the Kyrgyz tele-radio broadcasting corporation, the Kazakhstan TV press service said recently.

Photo Credit: Kazakhstan TV

The agreement was concluded during a presentation of a Kazakhstan TV-produced mini-series in Bishkek between Kazakhstan TV Chairperson Yerlan Karin and Director of the Kyrgyz tele-radio corporation Ilim Karypbekov.

“The goal of the event is to strengthen relations between Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan in the field of promoting cinema and television series of its own production,” the Kazakhstan TV said in a statement. “With the support of the government of Kazakhstan, Kazakhstan TV increases the production of its own series production year by year. In 2009, the first six-episode series ‘Agaiyndy’ was produced. Kazakhstan TV has filmed and shown over 60 television series of different genres, the most popular of which are ‘Agaiyndy,’ ‘Kok tarlandary,’ ‘Syrgalym,’ ‘Ayauli Arman,’ ‘Ake,’ ‘Inkar zhurek’ and so on.”

More than a dozen Kyrgyz television channels attended the presentation. According to Kazakhstan TV, the entrance to the Kyrgyz television market will be one of the directions for the wide promotion of Kazakh television productions to international markets.

Kazakhstan TV also participates in international television markets in Cannes, Moscow, Budapest, Berlin, Singapore, Hong Kong, Busan and Seoul, among others. The rights to the television series were acquired by the broadcasters in China, the United States, Russia, including its republics of Tatarstan and Bashkortostan, as well as in Cyprus and Slovenia.

Kazakhstan TV is the country’s largest media resource, according to the company’s official data. The corporation includes three national and 14 regional television channels, as well as four radio stations and 36 websites. The company broadcasts in most of Kazakhstan, as well as in the border regions of Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, China and Mongolia. The company also promotes the state language and switched in September 2011 to broadcasting in the Kazakh language only. In addition, the channel also produces at least 87 percent of its own broadcast material.

The post Kazakh TV productions to be broadcast in Kyrgyzstan appeared first on The Astana Times.

Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan Sign Strategic Partnership Agreement, Border Accord

Thu, 2017-04-20 09:06

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

ASTANA – President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov and President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev discussed bilateral relations during Berdymukhamedov’s April 18-19 state visit to Kazakhstan. His visit corresponded with the 25th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Photo credit: akorda.kz

During their meeting at the Akorda presidential residence on April 18, Nazarbayev congratulated Berdymukhamedov on his victory in the recent presidential election in Turkmenistan.

“We highly appreciate your decision to pay one of your first visits after the election to our country. Kazakh and Turkmen people are bound by ties of partnership, neighbourhood and fraternity. For a quarter of a century, our relations have been developing on a foundation of mutual trust and support. Turkmenistan is an important partner and ally of Kazakhstan in the region. Our peoples are brothers and good neighbours to each other,” said Nazarbayev.

Nazarbayev noted the development of bilateral cooperation in energy, transit and transport spheres. He also underlined existing prospects in other areas of collaboration.

“Today we are signing the most important agreement concerning the strategic partnership between Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan. This agreement will serve as a basis for further effective cooperation between our countries. We are solving all border issues. We will be the only two countries [in Central Asia] that do not have any border issues remaining unresolved,” he said. [As things stand now, Kazakhstan have signed agreements on border delimitation with all of its five neighbours, Russia, China, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, and it has now signed agreements on border demarcation with China and Turkmenistan.]

Berdymukhamedov noted that his visit to Kazakhstan is going to strengthen cooperation.

The two presidents discussed issues of regional and international cooperation, as well as collaboration in cultural, humanitarian and social spheres. According to Berdymukhamedov, the two states are gaining a good reputation in the international arena. They defined their positions on peace, stability and security in the framework of the UN and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), he noted.  

Nazarbayev said the Intergovernmental Commission on Economic Cooperation under the chairmanship of the two countries’ deputy prime ministers will play a special role in achieving the key tasks of bilateral cooperation.

During the talks, the parties paid attention to ways to improve the legal framework for cooperation and how to attract businesses to large joint infrastructure projects.

“The launch of the Kazakhstan-Turkmenistan-Iran railway is a historic event in the field of transit and transport cooperation. Kazakh and Turkmen entrepreneurs should use this advantage to strengthen mutual trade turnover,” Nazarbayev stressed.

According to Nazarbayev, water and energy issues, as well as activation of the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea, were a separate topic of discussion.  

“We once again confirmed that the water resources of the trans-boundary rivers of Central Asia are a common asset. The fate of millions of people depends on their reasonable use. This year, Turkmenistan chairs the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea,” he said.

The parties signed documents including a joint statement by the two presidents, a treaty on strategic partnership between Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, an agreement on demarcation of the Kazakh-Turkmen state border, an agreement between the two governments on the Kazakh-Turkmen Intergovernmental Commission and agreements on mutual protection of confidential information.

The parties also signed the programme of cooperation between the two countries’ Foreign Ministries for 2017-2018, an agreement on establishing twinning relations between Astana and Ashgabat, an agreement between the two Finance Ministries on cooperation in fighting against legalizing of revenues gained from illegal activities (money laundering) and the financing of terrorism, and an agreement on cooperation between the Kazakhstan National Chamber of Entrepreneurs and the Turkmenistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Following the visit, Nazarbayev awarded Berdymukhamedov the highest award for foreign leaders, the Order of Dostyk (Friendship) of first degree, for his contribution to securing friendship and understanding between the two countries.

Following the official part at the Akorda, Berdymukhamedov personally presented three of his books devoted to the Turkmen breed of horses, the Akhalteke, issued in the Kazakh language for the first time, Kazinform reported.

President of the Kazakh National Olympic Committee Timur Kulibayev initiated the production of these books in Kazakh.

“I am doubly pleased because the presentation of my books coincides with my state visit to your beautiful country. We have been good neighbours and brothers over the centuries. … Our peoples highly honour racehorses and treat them as family members. We have this in common. There is a saying ‘Waking up in the morning, greet your father and then your horse’,” Berdymukhamedov said.

In addition, the Turkmen leader was given a tour of the Kazakh National Museum.

The post Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan Sign Strategic Partnership Agreement, Border Accord appeared first on The Astana Times.

Chinese company to buy 51 percent of Kazakh automaker AllurGroup

Thu, 2017-04-20 01:12

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

ASTANA – China National Machinery Import and Export Corporation (CMC) held negotiations and signed an agreement on the intention to acquire 51 percent of common shares of Kazakh carmaker AllurGroup.

“The deal has a great importance not only for our enterprise, but for the entire domestic auto industry. A new level of partnership confirms the fact that the Kazakhstan automobile industry is an attractive investment sector and demonstrates a high potential for stable development,” said a member of the AllurGroup board of directors Yuri Tskhai.

During the negotiations, it was noted that the AllurGroup, due to the presence of small-scale production, welding, painting, a high level of localisation and implemented technologies, is an attractive enterprise for foreign investors and has a high development potential.

“For the Kazakh side, the partnership with the state-owned Chinese company, together with the solution of the financing tasks, will bring a real transfer of modern technologies and introduction of the newest production methods. With the help of the Chinese partner, the Kostanai enterprise can significantly deepen the localisation of production, load and expand production equipment, introduce the latest technologies, improve technological processes, produce modern cars at the facilities of SaryarkaAvtoprom with the lowest expenditure and maximum efficiency,” according to the statement of  AllurGroup.

The President of CMC Wang Xusheng said that it is a great honour for the company to become a partner of the leading automobile company of Kazakhstan.

The AllurGroup includes production sites of Agromashholding and SaryarkaAvtoProm and theAllurAuto dealer and distribution network. The sites manufacture the first Kazakh SUVs SsangYong Nomad and Toyota Fortuner, as well as various models of  SsangYong, Peugeot, JAC, Hyundai and commercial vehicles from Iveco and JAC.

AllurGroup not only assembles, it is also an official distributor of the brands SsangYong, Peugeot, Iveco and JAC in Kazakhstan. AllurAuto is also the official dealer of Mitsubishi, Suzuki and Ford cars.

The post Chinese company to buy 51 percent of Kazakh automaker AllurGroup appeared first on The Astana Times.