NOT ONLY INFRASTRUCTURE: ASTANA INTERNATIONAL FINANCIAL CENTER
Country with immense mining resources, but also one of the main producer of agricultural products, 2,725,000 square kilometers for just 18 million citizen, an essential crossroads for the New Silk Roads, Kazakhstan is increasingly economically linked to China, but at the same time is keeping close political and economic connections with Russia. Member of both the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a Russian-Chinese political-military alliance, and the Euroasian Economic Union, which excludes China and essentially collects the former Soviet republics, Kazakhstan has been chosen as a springboard for The Belt and Road project by President Xi Jinping, who talked about it for the first time in Astana in 2013, at that time defining the project as 'Silk Road Economic Belt'. The main railway route from China to Europe crosses the country, as well as the country's main gas and oil pipelines which connect Central Asia to China.
The country is getting ready to host the 2017 Expo, which will take place in Astana, the capital city, from 10th June to 10th September, where Italy will take an active part with its own pavilion. However, Kazakhstan want to go further and is thinking of an even more ambitious project: the Astana International Financial Center, a financial center that could match Dubai as a function and ease of operations for the financial sector.
The aim of the Kazakh government is to create an area subject to completely different rules from the rest of the country. In fact, the International Financial Center will apply English and not Kazakh law, since common law is already the main system to which financial transactions are subjected in the most part of the world. This means, for example, that English law will govern the contracts signed in the area. English will also be used as the language of administration within the area, and the procedures for setting up a company and the granting of working visas to foreign people will be simplified, according to the principle of the “one stop shop”. A “visa waiver” regime will also be implemented for citizens of most European countries, including Italy. Commercial and financial activities will take place within a regulatory framework separated from the rest of the country and in line with international standards, especially regarding investor protection and transparency.
Lead by the former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy, Kairat Kelimbetov, AIFC will be fully operational from January 2018, and is eager to become the 'international financial center for Central Asia, the Euro-Asian Economic Union, the Caucasus , West China and Eastern Europe. ' It is also planned to create within the center a specific 'unit' dedicated to the Belt and Road Initiative and related funding.
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