In Astana, the plan to create an international financial center
Material posted: Publication date: 16-12-2015
Despite the ambitious goals, global perspective of the project remain unclear.

In 2017 in Astana there should pass the international industrial exhibition of the Expo «Energy of the future». Though before sign event even more one and a half years, and works on building of an infrastructure of action go at full speed, in Kazakhstan have already attended to the future of the objects specially erected for action. On the basis of an exposition complex creation of the International financial centre in Astana (AMFTS, AIFC) which should begin work in 2018 is planned.

Among Center priorities - increase of investment appeal of Kazakhstan, attraction of foreign investments into local economy, development of the Kazakhstan financial system and a securities market, and also integration into the international market of the capital. For a conceptual basis the model of the Dubajsky financial centre (DIFC) is taken.

For the first time about AMFTS president Noursultan Nazarbayev has sounded the offer in the spring of 2015 within the limits of election campaign. Later this project has been included in the presidential program of "100 steps» to execution of "5 institutional reforms». So, 70th step assumes «fastening of the special legal status of the financial Center in Constitution RK», functioning of preferential tax and visa modes, «creation of independent judicial system with own jurisdiction on principles of the English right». The judicial case will be formed «from among foreign experts».

Tax exceptions provide outright release of participants of the Center from corporate and individual surtax for the 10-year-old period, and also return to non-residents of the VAT. Within first two years rent of office premises will be gratuitous. Arriving in MFTS to businessmen from the countries OESR, the United Arab Emirates, Singapore, Malaysia and Monaco for the period till 30 days of the visa will not be necessary. For foreigners constantly working in the Center the special 5-year-old visa status is provided. For attraction of foreign labour reception of permissions is not required.

English should become an office-work official language. It is planned that the court will work also in English.

The general management of the Astaninsky centre will carry out special committee of republican National bank. Operative control will be assigned to separate joint-stock company.

In the long term AMFTS should become a financial hub for «the CIS countries, and also all region of the Western and Central Asia». Placing of actions from group of Fund of national well-being of "Samruk-Kazyna", and also trade in Islamic securities is at first planned.

In project advancement personally president RK actively is engaged. In the end of September, 2015 in Astana N.Nazarbayev has met representatives of the American corporations working in the country (Guggenheim, JP Morgan, Pfizer, Blackstone), having considered their possible participation in work of future MFTS. Assistance in Center work was discussed by the president with chairman of the board JP Rothschild Capital Management during its November trip to London.

While prospects of the ambitious project remain not clear. Though experts doubt global future AIFC, nevertheless the Center has chances to become a financial hub national (in a competition to Alma-Ata) and regional scales in the conditions of inclusion in the Euroasian integration project tsentralnoaziatskih the states (Kirghizia, in the long term Tajikistan).

Kazakhstan already has an unsuccessful experience of creation of the regional financial centre in Alma-Ata. The program did not manage to be realised in 2010, despite a favorable external conjuncture, economic lifting and the developed base of Alma-Ata. As local experts believe, absence of "sensible subject strategy», weakness of a local financial system and attempt to recreate in the Central Asia without regional specificity and the limited possibilities of Kazakhstan the global centre on the western sample have ruined idea. In the present project the risk is great to repeat the former scenario. Kazakhstan has faced many difficulties through which there has passed Russia in the course of the organisation of the international financial centre in Moscow.

As a whole while too many adverse factors to look at project AMFTS with optimism. But finally its future will depend on managerial effectiveness of the country. If government RK becomes successful in achievement of an object in view, it is impossible to exclude in the long term transferrings to Astana Uniform financial regulator EAES which should be created till 2025. Though now the place of its finding, under the contract about EAES, provides Alma-Ata.

Maxim Lihachev

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Tags: financial center