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What will the AEF 2017 be best remembered for?

The Astana Economic Forum gathered thousands of businessmen, politicians and investors in Astana for fruitful discussions among expert community and also resulted in signing agreements that will determine the country’s future development.

One of the Forum's most important events was the round table on "Strategic Development Plan until 2025 "National Technology Initiative" during which the Minister of National Economy Timur Suleimenov presented the plan’s priorities. "The first priority is the growth of labour productivity, technological modernization of the economy and digital modernization" he said.

The second priority is expansion of private sector. This is about "clearing the field" from large companies that do not want to develop and giving way to companies that are more adapted to the current situation.

Another priority is creation of favourable investment climate. "We are talking not only about the business climate from the viewpoint of direct regulation, we are talking about the quality of institutions, courts, improving legal literacy of the population" the minister explained.

Regional development assumes an important factor in the development of both agglomerations and medium and small cities. As the Minister of National Economy noted, without solving this problem, it will be difficult to implement comprehensive plans. "We talked about the "100 steps", about the transfer of certain financial powers to regions, increasing their responsibility. It is necessary to balance it within the strategic plan" he said.

Among other priorities of the document is personal competitiveness of every citizen, as well as the government initiatives. "The sixth priority is the government acting as an agent of change. This is a management project, this means starting from yourself, not waiting for the business to do it, but trying to start many things at the government level" the Minister stressed.

The news about Kazakhstan's joining the OECD Investment Committee can be mentioned as another positive result of the AEF. Membership in the OECD Investment Committee will enable Kazakhstan to consistently implement the advanced standards of the OECD member states, and will also have a positive impact on the country’s rating and investment opportunities. This will indicate a high level of business environment, competition and protection of investors' rights. Recognition by the OECD Investment Committee is a decisive factor for many investors when choosing a country for further cooperation.

News that Kazakhstan joined the OECD Declaration on International Investment and Multinational Enterprises during the AEF session on improvement of the country's investment attractiveness. Our country became the 48th country that announced the intention to create the most transparent and comfortable environment for foreign investors.

Meanwhile, the Kazakhstan Temir Zholy national railway company signed an agreement with the Dubai-based company DP WORLD to create a single electronic system for port communications. It will be based on the one-stop shop principle. The signing of these documents is a historical event for the Kazakhstan’s logistics and trade. The new project involves automation of the key cargo delivery and control processes, bringing together all stakeholders from customs and phytosanitary to brokerage organizations and banks, not to mention shippers and consignees, on a single electronic platform.

"The document that has been signed today will radically change the situation in the logistics supply chains of Kazakhstan and Central Asia. Dubai Trade is an electronic system of port communications that will help Kazakhstan simplify all customs procedures and completely exclude paper work," said the Chairman of the DP WORLD’s Board of Directors Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem.

As part of the Astana Economic Forum, the Mastercard international payment system and the Astana International Financial Center (AIFC) concluded a cooperation agreement aimed at introducing innovative payment technologies and developing non-cash economy in the Republic of Kazakhstan. The document was signed by the head of Mastercard in Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus and Armenia, Alexey Malinovsky, and the Governor of the Astana International Financial Center, Kairat Kelimbetov. The partners intend to actively develop the innovative infrastructure of the financial center, including the use of modern payment technologies.

An important part of the partnership will also be a joint work aimed at ensuring availability of financial services, which will be based on the financial literacy of the population. As part of this objective, the parties plan to create relevant educational programs and campaigns. In addition, Mastercard is expected to support creation of the AIFC’s FinTech start-up accelerator by bringing its unique global experience in this area.

In addition, energy authorities discussed prospects for a transition to a non-oil future. Kanat Bozumbayev, the Minister of Energy of the Republic of Kazakhstan, announced that the International Center of Green Technologies is being created at the EXPO-2017 site in Astana. The Center will help achieve objectives of the energy sector transformation, transition to green business, transfer and adaptation of green technologies and development of financing in this area.

Mayor of Astana Asset Issekeshev announced a number of plans to transform the capital into a green city. For example, a master plan for water resources management is being developed. "Water management issues arise in many regions every year. We have such a climate that there are major floods when high waters begin in spring. This is a challenge for us. Then, in winter it snows a lot, which is another challenge. In summer, on the contrary, there is lack of water. So, we are now going to cooperate with the Asian Development Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development to develop a comprehensive plan that will take into account all the issues, such as groundwater, flood waters and water saving. This will help us to solve many problems, in particular, those related to the environment," he said, speaking at the "Smart and Sustainable Cities of the Future" session.

At the end of the session, the mayor of Astana and UNDP signed a memorandum aimed at creating favourable conditions for implementation of joint projects to ensure transition to sustainable urban development through introduction of the smart city energy-efficient activities and technologies.

The Astana Economic Forum was held in the capital of Kazakhstan on June 15-16. The event gathered more than 4,000 delegates from 100 countries who discussed the widest range of issues from sustainable development to private equity investments and de-globalization trends in over 40 sessions. This year the important event was held without the participation of famous people, but with a greater emphasis on the Kazakhstan’s agenda and issues of the Kazakhstan’s economy.