By BILQIS BAHARI - June 13, 2017 @ 1:24pm
KAZAKHSTAN is ready to open its doors to more international companies and foreign investors after 25 years of being in the Commonwealth of Independent States.
The Astana Expo 2017, which opened last Saturday, is testament to Kazakhstan's long-term commitment to developing its energy sector and strengthening ties with other countries.
Expo commissioner Rapil Zhoshybayev said Malaysia was one of the countries that Kazakhstan looked forward to forging a stronger relationship with.
“Kazakhstan is interested in deepening not only trade and economic relations but also cultural ties with Malaysia.
“This is why I am confident that the participation of Malaysia will provide new opportunities to expand bilateral relations," Rapil told NST Business, here, last week.
Malaysia and Kazakhstan have shared strong bilateral ties since 1992, a year after the Central Asia country gained independence when the Soviet Union was dissolved in 1991.
Rapil said Malaysia's participation in the expo was important as Kazakhstan could learn Malaysia's policy on increasing the use of renewable energy sources.
He added that Malaysia was one of the first few countries in Asia to confirm its participation in the expo.
The Malaysian pavilion, which carries the theme “Powering Green Growth", showcases different technologies in sectors such as green energy and renewable energy.
A total of 100 Malaysian companies and universities are participating in the three-month exhibition which ends on September 10.
Kazakhstan is expecting some 15,000 Malaysian tourists to the republic during the expo.
The country also expects some five million people to visit the expo, of which 15 per cent are expected to be foreigners.
Rapil said the Kazakh government had facilitated a 30-day visa-free entry for Malaysians and those from the European Union, United Arab Emirates, Singapore and Monaco as well as Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development member countries.
Rapil said Kazakhstan's Foreign Affairs Ministry, together with Kazakh foreign missions and the joint-stock company, National Company Astana Expo-2017, had worked hard in the past two years to attract foreign participation.
Initially, Kazakhstan targeted to sign up 100 countries and 10 international organisations for the expo but it had surpassed the target, as 115 countries and 22 organisations had signed up.
Rapil said there had been two stages to draw the interest of international participants.
It started with an official invitation from the office of President Nursultan Nazarbayev.
“We worked by negotiating at different levels, making presentations and holding meetings," he said, adding that the meetings were held in the various participating countries.
The next stage was obtaining the official confirmation on the participation.
The process was followed by discussions on the participants, size of the pavilions as well as the appointment of the participating countries' national section commissioners and reservation of each country's national day.
“It should be noted that the decision to participate in the expo could not be made at once. It was quite a long and complex process. In accordance with internal procedures in most of the states, it took time to approve the budget, assess the feasibility and define the responsible state agencies," said Rapil.
The Astana Expo 2017 is the first major international event organised by Kazakhstan.
The theme, “Future Energy", was chosen by Nazarbayev based on his long-term vision to develop sustainable energy for Kazakhstan instead of only relying on oil and gas and other mineral resources.
Rapil said the exhibition would boost investments in Kazakhstan and was a platform for Kazakh entrepreneurs to establish business contacts with foreign companies.
He added that the expo was also an avenue for Kazakh and foreign scientists to showcase their latest technological developments.
In order to attract more tourists to Kazakhstan during the event, the country will also organise cultural, sports and entertainment events.
“We plan to hold 3,000 events in Astana during this period. It will be very interesting," said Rapil.
When the expo ends, the site will be used to launch the Astana International Financial Centre, International Centre on the Development of Green Technologies and Investment Projects under the United Nations as well as the International Technology Park of Information Technology Start-ups.
“All of these initiatives should serve as the foundation for attracting entrepreneurs, investors and new technology from the world," added Rapil.