IMF Managing Director Meets With President, Takes Part in AEF
Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Christine Lagarde made her first visit to Kazakhstan May 24, meeting with President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev, taking part in the Astana Economic Forum (AEF) and addressing a gathering at Nazarbayev University.
With Nazarbayev, Lagarde discussed priorities for cooperation between Kazakhstan and the organisation as well as global financial and economic trends. At the meeting, Nazarbayev noted Kazakhstan’s 25-year collaboration with the IMF.
“The fund provided enormous technical and financial assistance in Kazakhstan’s early years of independence,” he said. “Today, reaching the 25th anniversary of our independence, our country is able to implement more in comparison with other post-Soviet countries.” Kazakhstan’s economy is facing challenges today, including falling commodity prices and economic slowdowns in Russia and China, but “despite this, we are not allowing our gross domestic product to fall and we are creating positive dynamics, which we hope to maintain this year,” he said.
Lagarde noted the IMF’s support for Kazakhstan’s ongoing economic, industrial and infrastructure development and reform process and said the organisation values Kazakhstan as a longstanding member.
Lagarde then joined the first IMF regional conference within the 2016 AEF, where representatives of Central Asia, the Caucasus, Russia and Belarus discussed regional economic problems, regional integration and reforms in Kazakhstan.
Prime Minister of Kazakhstan Karim Massimov, who participated in the event, said he’d discussed Kazakhstan’s reform programme with Lagarde and IMF representatives. “I believe that the only way for the country to overcome the challenges that are currently facing the economy … is a continuation of the economic reforms,” he said.
Lagarde also said steps Kazakhstan has undertaken, including floating its currency, the tenge, will help mitigate low commodity prices, the slowdown of key regional economies and other challenges.
“The regional roundtable with senior government officials from neighbouring countries provided a unique opportunity to share views on the economic issues facing the region. We were able to deepen the dialogue about the strong policy responses needed to tackle challenges and the many opportunities ahead. We at the IMF believe that Central Asia can increasingly serve as a bridge between Europe and China and serve as a hub for new activities in logistics and communications, energy and green industries, and agriculture,” Lagarde said in a statement at the conclusion of her visit.
Addressing faculty members and students at Nazarbayev University later that day, Lagarde said the country’s current transformation process may take several years, but is necessary for growth. Kazakhstan can use the knowledge and energy of its youth to build a new, efficient, inclusive growth model, she said.
Lagarde also discussed global challenges and opportunities, policies to support regional transformation and how young people can contribute to positive change.
“Think not only of the big players who export grain and machinery, but also of the smaller companies and entrepreneurs who will benefit from new opportunities in light industrial goods, biotech, green products and services. These businesses also need the appropriate environment to succeed and flourish.” Noting Kazakhstan’s past and present transformations, she noted that this year marks a successful transition from a centrally planned economy to more market-based institutions.
In four areas, Kazakhstan must go further, she said. It needs stronger macroeconomic frameworks, more effective and transparent institutions, a more open and integrated economy and a more inclusive economy, including when it comes to gender.
Lagarde called on the students to think about education, embrace technologies and green industries and connect with the world and the IMF.
“Creativity and innovation will increasingly determine success for your generation,” she said. “Striving for excellence in math and sciences will equip you with the range of skills necessary to create innovative products and services.”