Kazakhstan sees extra investment, woos foreigners
Kazakhstan is planning financial incentives and state support to lure investors to non-raw material sectors, according to a senior government official who said the country could attract an extra $10 billion in foreign investment each year, Reuters reported.
Central Asia's largest economy, Kazakhstan has attracted around $120 billion in foreign direct investment, mainly to its booming oil and gas sector, since independence in 1991.
"Kazakhstan's potential to absorb investment has sufficient potential for growth," Deputy Prime Minister Aset Isekeshev told a government meeting on Monday.
"If the current level of investment is around $18 billion (a year) ... the capacity of additional investment is estimated at around $10 billion -- primarily in Kazakhstan's infrastructure and investment projects," said Isekeshev, who is also minister of industry and new technologies.
Prime Minister Karim Masimov said the government has two weeks to prepare detailed proposals to back the plans.
Isekeshev said Russia, Ukraine and Azerbaijan were Kazakhstan's main rivals in the fight for foreign direct investment.
To win this fight, Kazakhstan was ready to provide substantial financial incentives to investors willing to invest in non-raw material projects -- primarily in processing industries -- which are worth over $50 million, he said.
He suggested that these "strategic" projects should be exempt from corporate income tax, as well as from property and land taxes.
"The list of such strategic projects will be approved by the government," he said, without elaborating.
Isekeshev said that for those willing to invest in the processing sector, Kazakhstan was ready to guarantee the stability of their contracts -- a clause removed from the country's legislation in 2004.
Kazakhstan's gross domestic product grew by 7.3 percent last year after a 1.2-percent rise in 2010.
President Nursultan Nazarbayev, who has ruled with a firm hand for more than 20 years, has told his government to keep economic growth at 7 percent, which can only be achieved by developing and diversifying the non-raw material economy.