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01/10/09

News Bulletin No 1



POLITICS

•    Kazakh Secretary of State receives U.S Special Envoy to Organization of Islamic Conference
•    Statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan on the situation in Gaza Strip
•    Law “On Amendments to Legislative Acts on Freedom of Faith and Religious Associations” to be reviewed for compliance with the Constitution


ECONOMY

•    Kazakhstan: Investment Bankers Upbeat Amid the Downturn
•    Kazakh Kazkommertsbank Jan-Sept profit up 16 pct
•    Kazakhstan: Astana Settles Old Electricity Debt with Tajikistan
•    Kazakhstan: Uranium Production on the Rise
•    Production Hike Lifts Kazakhstan Oil Exports
•    Indo-Kazakh trade, IT ties set to get major boost during Nazabayev’s state visit


OTHER NEWS

•    Jewish Pride and Chanukah in Almaty
•    Kazakh Orthodox Leader Calls for Religious Tolerance
•    UPS Expands International Express Service
 

Category: General
Posted by: admin

No 1 January 10, 2009

POLITICS

•    Kazakh Secretary of State receives U.S Special Envoy to Organization of Islamic Conference
•    Statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan on the situation in Gaza Strip
•    Law “On Amendments to Legislative Acts on Freedom of Faith and Religious Associations” to be reviewed for compliance with the Constitution


ECONOMY

•    Kazakhstan: Investment Bankers Upbeat Amid the Downturn
•    Kazakh Kazkommertsbank Jan-Sept profit up 16 pct
•    Kazakhstan: Astana Settles Old Electricity Debt with Tajikistan
•    Kazakhstan: Uranium Production on the Rise
•    Production Hike Lifts Kazakhstan Oil Exports
•    Indo-Kazakh trade, IT ties set to get major boost during Nazabayev’s state visit


OTHER NEWS

•    Jewish Pride and Chanukah in Almaty
•    Kazakh Orthodox Leader Calls for Religious Tolerance
•    UPS Expands International Express Service



POLITICS

Kazakh Secretary of State receives U.S Special Envoy to Organization of Islamic Conference

Trend News

Kazakhstan intends to work hard to strengthen confidence between peoples, Kanat Saudabayev, Kazakh secretary of state, said on Jan. 9 during the meeting with Sada Cumber, U.S special envoy to the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC).
Among the issues discussed were cooperation between Astana and Washington to settle international dialogue, including forthcoming chairmanship of Kazakhstan in the OIC in 2011.
“It is important to unite efforts of all countries for mutual settlement of humanity’s urgent problems in epoch of globalization, especially, amid the hardest world economic crisis. So, during forthcoming chairmanship in OSCE and OIC Kazakhstan intends to work hard to strengthen trust and mutual understanding between peoples and countries,” Saudabayev said.
During the talks secretary of state stressed that Kazakhstan is generally accepted example of international and inter religious tolerance. Kazakhstan was elected OSCE chairman in 2010 and OIC chairman in 2011.
Sada Cumber in his turn stressed that being interested in strengthening of mutual understanding with Muslim world, the United States support the abovementioned Kazakh initiatives as important components of the international security.


Statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan on the situation in Gaza Strip
 
From the MFA website

The Republic of Kazakhstan expresses its deep concern and regret on the last events in Gaza Strip which have led to an escalation of violence and more death and suffering by innocent people, and also to the deterioration of humanitarian situation in Palestine.
Kazakhstan stands for the soonest settlement of the situation by political means and calls upon the sides involved into the conflict to refuse military solution of the problem. It is only through the dialog and negotiations that the ultimate goals of the peace process can be achieved.
 

Law “On Amendments to Legislative Acts on Freedom of Faith and Religious Associations” to be reviewed for compliance with the Constitution

KAZINFORM

Today the Constitutional Council of the Republic of Kazakhstan has accepted for consideration the President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s address on review of the Law On amendments to legislative acts on the issues of freedom of faith and religious associations, adopted by the Parliament on November 26, 2008, for compliance with the Constitution. The Law was submitted to the President for signing on December 2, 2008.




ECONOMY

Kazakhstan: Investment Bankers Upbeat Amid the Downturn

EUROMONEY Magazine

Kazakhstan’s bankers are taking a defiant stance towards the financial crisis. Despite the fact that important sectors of the economy such as banking and construction have been hit hard by the global credit crisis, which has cut off the supply of cheap foreign funding that backed their rapid expansion, investment bankers believe there is still plenty of potential business to be fought over.
"Kazakhstan’s a big country with big prospects," says Adel Kambar, chief executive of Renaissance Capital’s central Asian operation in Almaty. He adds: "We still get investors from New York and London travelling here – nobody’s forgotten Kazakhstan, it’s still on a lot of people’s radar screens."
While acknowledging that in the foreseeable future there’s unlikely to be a return to the large-scale public share and bond issuance that propelled Kazakhstan to centre stage in the international capital markets in recent years, Kambar says that there’s still plenty of investment banking work to be done.
Alongside advising local businesses there is also work from the authorities in the capital, Astana. Renaissance recently secured a high-profile mandate from the National Welfare Fund, Samruk-Kazyna, to help it establish and operate its Distressed Assets Fund, which will restructure problem banking assets.
Elsewhere, Stefan Scholz, head of investment banking at rival firm Visor Capital and recently returned from a recruitment drive in London, says that the fallout from the global crisis on the investment banking industry means that firms such as his, which have a strong pipeline of deals, are increasingly seen as an attractive option for highly experienced professionals seeking to escape the dole queue in western Europe and the US. "We used to get job applications from junior analysts, now we get them from people at director level and above," says Scholz, adding that the long-term economic prospects of resource-rich Kazakhstan mean that the country will continue to be the focus of M&A activity given the interest from investors worldwide.
Russia’s Troika Dialog, the latest in a series of investment banks to set up shop in Almaty, also believes that there is more than enough work available to justify its presence in Kazakhstan. Chief executive James Turnbull says that the firm is building its local sales/trading equity brokerage and research capabilities to serve its extensive client base in Russia, western Europe and the US. In addition, he stresses the prospect of Troika executing debt and private equity placements on behalf of local corporates looking to source precious bridge financing or expansion capital. "There’s a big role here for us on the debt and equities advisory front as well as on the plain vanilla brokerage side."


Kazakh Kazkommertsbank Jan-Sept profit up 16 pct
 
Reuters

Kazkommertsbank, Kazakhstan's second largest lender, said on Tuesday its net profit rose 16 percent year-on-year in January-September 2008 to 49.9 billion tenge ($413 million).
The profit increase was due to the growth in interest-earning assets and an increase in net interest margin to 7.9 percent in the first nine months of 2008 from 5.9 percent in the same period of 2007, the bank said in a statement.
Kazkommertsbank said its provisioning rate on customer loans had grown to 8.0 percent by the end of September from 5.6 percent at the beginning of 2007.
The bank's total assets shrank 5.4 percent within the same period.
Kazakh banks have been hit hard by the global financial crisis which ended their rapid growth fuelled by foreign borrowing.


Kazakhstan: Astana Settles Old Electricity Debt with Tajikistan

EurasiaNet.org

Kazakhstan has agreed to pay off an old debt to Tajikistan by supplying wheat and fuel to Dushanbe.
According to a source in the Tajik Finance Ministry, cited in a report distributed by the Asia-Plus news agency, Kazakhstan will deliver $5 million worth of wheat, $4 million in diesel fuel and oil worth, along with $3 million in cash. The deal was struck in Kazakhstan in late December during an informal meeting of CIS heads, added the January 8 report.
Kazakhstan incurred the debt during the 1990s, when Kazakhenergo, a now defunct entity, imported electricity from the Tajik state-owned power company Barqi Tajik.


Kazakhstan: Uranium Production on the Rise

EurasiaNet.org

Kazakhstan registered a 28 percent year-on-year rise for uranium extraction in 2008, the government has reported.
"The total volume of the uranium extracted by the National atomic company Kazatomprom JSC for 2008 will make up 8500.5 tons," a government statement said, according to a report distributed by the Gazeta.kz news website on January 9.
Kazakhstan seeks to become the world’s largest exporter of uranium by 2010, aiming to raise annual production to at least 15,400 tons. President Nursultan Nazarbayev is expected to conclude a major nuclear cooperation deal between Kazakhstan and India when he visits New Delhi later this January.


Production Hike Lifts Kazakhstan Oil Exports

Bloomberg

Kazakhstan's oil exports rose 2.8 per cent last year, according to preliminary figures published by the government.
Kazakhstan, the second-biggest oil producer in the former Soviet Union after Russia, exported 62.4 million tonnes of crude last year, the government said in the official Kazakhstanskaya Pravda newspaper yesterday. Output of oil and gas condensate grew 4.1 per cent to 70 million tonnes last year, the government said.
Oil production was led by Chevron Corp's TengizChevroil LLP venture and by Karachaganak Petroleum Operating BV, a venture of BG Group Plc and Eni SpA.
TengizChevroil produced 17.5 million tonnes and Karachaganak 11.5 million tonnes, the government said.
The Central Asian country's gas exports rose 28 per cent to 5.67 billion cubic metres last year. Gas production was 33.18 billion cubic metres in 2008, an increase of 12 per cent from a year earlier, the government said.


Indo-Kazakh trade, IT ties set to get major boost during Nazabayev’s state visit

ANI

With just about a fortnight left for the state visit to India of Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev, bilateral ties between the two countries is being firmed up not only in the crucial energy sector, but also in non-energy sectors.
Disclosing this in an exclusive interview to ANI Thursday evening, Zhanar S. Aitzhanova, Kazakhstan’s Vice Minister of Industry and Trade and her country’s chief negotiator at World Trade Organization (WTO) accession negotiations, confirmed that Kazakhstan has sought India’s assistance in setting up of industrial clusters in textiles, besides cooperation in areas of hi-technology and financial services.
Aitzhanova, who arrived in New Delhi on Wednesday and is returning to Astana today, revealed that her talks with Minister of State for Commerce Jairam Ramesh and Commerce Secretary G.K. Pillai on Thursday had been “very positive” on the above issues, as also on the issue of raising the level of cooperation in the energy sector.
She also said that in the wake of India getting clearance from the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) to conduct civilian nuclear commerce with other countries, Kazakhstan, which possesses the second largest uranium reserves in the world after Australia, is actively considering a proposal to offer uranium to India.
When asked whether there were any obstacles from the Indian side to Kazakhstan’s accession to the WTO, Aitzhanova told ANI: “We (Kazakhstan) have completed bilateral (WTO-related) talks with 22 countries so far. We have four countries left India, the United States, the European Union (which has 27 member states) and Saudi Arabia (which is a new entrant). India has been very positive and fully supports our endeavor for accession to the WTO. We are very much looking forward to  bilateral relations between India and Kazakhstan being further strengthened during the forthcoming visit of our President Nursultan Nazarbayev (between January 23 and 26).”
While accepting India’s need for energy security, and the significant role that Kazakhstan could and is playing in this regard, Minister Aitzhanova said a “key long-term” goal of her country’s bid for accession to the WTO was “diversification of the economy” and introduction of a “liberal regulatory framework” in the services sector.
She revealed that the Kazakhstan Government is actively reforming its economic policies as per existing WTO guidelines, and has “intensified negotiations with other countries in the last three to four years.”
The country, she said, is enjoying an annual GDP growth of between nine to ten percent (aggregate GDP pegged at 135 billion USD), and has so far attracted foreign direct investment (FDI) of 72 billion US dollars. To emphasize how this robust growth is benefiting the people of Kazakhstan, Aitzhanova said that among the 15 former Soviet states (Now known as CIS), “Kazakhstan enjoys the highest FDI per capita (about 8000 USD)”, and added that 80 percent of the FDI attraction is due to the country’s “open economic policies and its decision to explore external economic interaction beyond CIS boundaries”.
In the context of trade ties with India, she told ANI that a sign of progress could be seen in the fact that in 2004, trade between the two countries was valued at 80 million dollars, and by the first ten months of 2008, this had gone up to a mammoth 232 million dollars. Of this, she said oil and allied exports have contributed 100 million dollars, asbestos has contributed 15 million dollars and metal exports have contributed 20 million dollars.
Talks between the two governments were now focused on cooperation in the agricultural/dairy sector, medicine and health-related accessories, meat products, textiles and information technology-related skills and services, Aitzhanova added.
She said that during the forthcoming visit of President Nazarbayev, India and Kazakhstan would be signing three Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs), including one on bilateral cooperation on technical standards and services, an agreement for the protection of intellectual property rights and geographical indications (GI) for products such as Basmati Rice, Alphonso Mangoes and Darjeeling Tea.
We have had very fruitful, constructive and mutually beneficial discussions today (Thursday). No problems between the two countries on terms of trade and economic cooperation We are discussing terms under which qualified specialists from India will be providing services in Kazakhstan. Both countries and their respective governments are in agreement over recognizing safety standards on technical regulations for products that are imported from India to Kazakhstan and from Kazakhstan to India, said Aitzhanova
We have agreed on future cooperation in various fields like textile products, textile companies to visit India. We also have talked about cooperation in the IT sector, and we have agreed to an Indian proposal to set up an IT training school in Kazakhstan, as we believe that foundations and skills have to be taught first before they can applied to larger schemes. We will also be signing an agreement on concession on services, where we will be stipulating very clearly terms under which Indian companies can provide their services, particularly in interesting spheres like IT, construction and architecture. We hope and look forward to concrete outcomes of these negotiations, and they are taking place these days, and will continue during the visit, she added.
She concluded by saying that Kazakhstan is keen to give Most Favored Nation (MFN) status to India, as it sees New Delhi as a close ally and an emerging economic giant.




OTHER NEWS


Jewish Pride and Chanukah in Almaty

www.jewish.kz

REUTERS

Kazakhstan's chief Rabbi Eshaya Cohen is lifted on a hoist to light a menorah during a celebration of the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah in the centre of Almaty December 28, 2008. The menorah's eighth candle was lit on Sunday to commemorate Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife Rivka, who were killed in the Mumbai attacks 30 days ago, the Kazakh branch of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement said in a statement.

On the eighth night of Chanukah, a special public menorah-lighting ceremony was held at the main precinct in Almaty.
Present were hundreds of local Jews. The Chief Rabbi of Kazakhstan, Rabbi Yeshayah Elazar Cohen, lit the menorah in memory of the Rebbe’s shluchim in Mumbai, who were brutally murdered by terrorists a month ago.
Rabbi Cohen, who was accompanied by Yehoshua Yisraelawitz when he lit the menorah, explained the significance of Chanukah. He also spoke about Rabbi Gavriel Noach and Rivka Holtzberg, Hy’d, and told the crowd that lighting the candles was the truest victory over the evil terrorists who tried to snuff out the activities of the shluchim.
“Lights of victory symbolize true freedom and faith in G-d,” said Rabbi Cohen. He thanked the government and the Almaty municipality for allowing public menorah-lighting ceremonies for the past 14 years – a clear indication of the atmosphere of religious freedom and tolerance that prevails in Kazakhstan.
The Chief Rabbi and shliach of Almaty, Rabbi Elchonon Cohen, spoke about the lessons we learn from Chanukah and how each Jew should increase in light and not merely be content with the good deeds that we have performed in the past. “We always need to add more light and joy,” he said.
Twelve-year-old Avremi Cohen provided live musical entertainment, playing the organ and singing Jewish songs.
During the ceremony, a convoy of vehicles with electronic menorahs on their roofs was nearby. When they saw them, many passersby called their Jewish friends and wished them a happy Chanukah.
Every night during Chanukah, the menorah in the main precinct was lit by Chabad shluchim.


Kazakh Orthodox Leader Calls for Religious Tolerance

RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty

The head of the Orthodox Church in Kazakhstan believes that the rights of all the country's religious minorities should be respected, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.
Metropolitan Mefody of Astana and Almaty told RFE/RL that he does not think that the rights of religious minorities are abused in Kazakhstan.
He said that Kazakh lawmakers, who are currently discussing a new law on religion, should remember that all religious minorities have equal rights with Kazakhstan's two traditional confessions, Islam and Orthodox Christianity.



UPS Expands International Express Service

The Associated Press

United Parcel Service Inc. said Wednesday it expanded express delivery service inside 16 additional countries.
UPS said the express pickup and delivery services were added inside Algeria, Argentina, Chile, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Malta, Pakistan, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, South Africa, Ukraine and the United Arab Emirates. The company had already offered international service into those countries.
Dan Brutto, president of UPS' international service, said the Atlanta-based company was investing in markets where demand was growing.



News Bulletin of the Embassy of the Republic of Kazakhstan
Contact person: Zhanbolat Ussenov
Tel.: 202-232-5488 ext 104; Fax: 202-232-5845
E-mail: zhan@kazakhembus.com