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Conference On Kazakhstan To Be Crowded By Oil Interests

  • Stuart Parrott



London, June 5 (RFE/RL) - Kazakhstan's Prime Minsiter Akezhan Kazhegeldin will head a top-level Kazakh delegation taking part in a two-day London conference on investment opportunities in Kazkhstan.

The conference - entitled: "Investment Window for Kazakhstan" - opens tomorrow. It is organized by the Adam Smith Institute, a London-based, independent policy research-and-analysis organization, which has advised many governments around the world on privatization and free markets.

Organizers say a Kazakh delegation of about 100, including government ministers and heads of industry, is expected to attend.

The conference will also be attended by Western investors, financials experts, bankers and business people. Many are from European or North American firms, wanting to do business with Kazakhstan.

Kazhegeldin will deliver tomorrow's opening address on the theme: "Kazakhstan - A Partner for Global Business and Trade." He will be followed by Britian's Lord Fraser, Minister in charge of oil and gas. Britian's Energy Minister Tim Eggar is also expected to attend.

Ulrike von Lonski, the organizer of the conference, told RFE/RL's London correspondent that the two days of talks will focus on investment opportunities, particularly in the energy sector in Kazakhstan. Von Lonski says: "The oil, gas, mineral and mining sectors are Kazakhstan's best-known industries. But there are lots of other opportunities in other areas -- telecommunications, transport, agriculture and finance." She said the conference would highlight all of those areas.

Von Lonski says international investors view Kazakhstan as having a large potential. At the same time, she says, Almaty has to establish a favorable climate for international investors, and a willingness to work with them.

Two key issues are the tax and legal environment for foreign investors, and the responsiblities of Kazakhstan's government bodies.

The first session of the conference will focus on the government's economic policies and reform program. It will discuss the development of the private sector, currency convertibility, lending policies and anti-inflation measures.

This discussion will be led by Kazakhstan's Economics Minister Umirzak Shukcev and Finance Minister Alexander Pavlov.

The conference will address laws and decrees regulating foreign investments, including the issue of guarantees for foreign investors against the re-nationalization of industry, or changes in the law.

A keynote presentation will be given by Ron Freeman, first vice-president of the London-based European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), set up to promote market reform in the East.
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