Int’l Experts Address Global Economy at Astana Economic Forum
Global experts, politicians, economists, world-famous businessmen and Nobel prize laureates were gathered in the Kazakh capital May 25-26 for the ninth Economic Forum (AEF).
This year’s “New Economic Reality: the diversification, innovations and the knowledge economy” theme has brought some renowned names under one roof of the Independence Palace. There, during the first day of the gathering, participants engaged in heated debates and discussions throughout numerous panel sessions.
One of the more notable comments made the day before the first’ day’s session was from International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Christine Lagarde who said that oil prices “will not go back to $100 a barrel” in an interview with local television station Khabar. However, despite the fluctuations in oil prices, Lagarde noted that Kazakhstan is heading in the right economic direction.
“Kazakhstan for over a decade showed a good pace of economic development. If one looks at the average rate of growth in recent years, it was about 7 percent. In many ways, these indicators have provided high commodity prices, especially for oil. It was very wise to postpone part of the funds in the sovereign fund, then to use it as a buffer in case of extreme situations. … We think that despite the negative atmosphere with such programmes as The 100 Concrete Steps and the Strategy 2050 with key structural reforms proposed by the President of Kazakhstan the country is moving in the right direction,” she said as quoted by the television station.
The recently established Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), which Kazakhstan is chairing this year, was also in spotlight at the forum. Experts discussed ways to use the EAEU mechanism to aid the tumbling economy.
“The expectations for the Eurasian Economic Union were much better when the oil prices were high,” said Chief Economist for Europe and Central Asia at the World Bank Hans Timmer. “In the long run, for me, it still makes a lot of sense to have regional cooperation and to have a free trade area where it would be possible to integrate. From the prospective of Kazakhstan at the moment, it’s not the only focus. Kazakhstan has this enormous opportunity to trade not only with Russia but to start trading with China also and to start trading with Western Europe. I think the most important reform is making it easier for new and small enterprises to enter the market.”
Also on day one, Nobel Prize laureates met with Kazakh students at the Nazarbayev University. They highlighted the reforms that are being carried out in Kazakhstan, emphasised the need for sustainable growth and praised the AEF for creating a platform for international dialogue not only within the economic sense but also nonproliferation.
“The Astana Economic forum is the main one for Central Asia for sure. It is also important outside this major area for the entire world economic order. And your President is taking many good economic initiatives like relating to nuclear disarmament, which I think is extremely important,” said Nobel Prize Laureate in Economics Christopher Pissarides.
President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev joined the AEF’s first day’s talks.
“The global economy shows volatility,” he said, adding, “we do not feel or hear certain expert opinions like where are we headed or what is awaiting us? Obviously, all this impacts Kazakhstan. There are certain difficulties in processes in Europe, Russia and China. So we do have things that we need to discuss.”
The President added that in spite of the challenges, Kazakhstan continues implementing reforms that have found support among prominent politicians and experts worlwide.