Kazakhstan’s Prime Minister Nurlan Balgimbaev has assured foreign investors that their contracts are safe in the republic. The prime minister insisted that his government has no plans to revise its privatization policy: “It is simply putting things in order and expects foreign investors to honor their obligations,” he said. (Russian agencies, August 24)
Balgimbaev’s statement comes in the wake of several disputes between the Kazakhstani government and foreign investors. (See the Monitor, July 29) An editorial in last week’s issue of the Almaty newspaper “Delovaya nedelya” claims that a network of alliances between Kazakhstani companies and regional leaders is designed “to pressure foreign companies to leave the country.” The article contends that President Nursultan Nazarbaev is increasingly constrained in his ability to defend foreign companies, as he did the Belgian company, Tractebel, at the beginning of the year, after the company publicly accused Balgimbaev of interfering in its business activities. (Delovaya nedelya [Almaty], August 28)
President Nazarbaev echoed his prime minister, saying that Kazakhstan’s strategy of encouraging foreign investment had produced several success stories. Textbook examples were the Termitau steel works in Karaganda and Kazakmys, which regroups the Jezkazgan and Balkhash copper plants. Repeating the often-cited assertion that Kazakhstan, among the former socialist countries, ranks second only to Hungary in per capita foreign investment, Nazarbaev encouraged foreign companies to invest in the republic’s industrial sector now and thereby enable Kazakhstan’s economy to move away from its focus on raw materials.
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