efe-epaAstana

Kazakhstan celebrated the official launch on Thursday of its Astana International Financial Center at the EXPO Congress Center in the capital, which is set to serve as a financial hub for Central Asia, the Caucasus, the Eurasian Economic Union, the Middle East, Western China, Mongolia and Europe.

The opening of the AIFC coincided with the eve of the 20th anniversary of the declaration of Astana as the capital of Kazakhstan and the inaugural ceremony was presided over by Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev.

"Astana should become the main financial center of the Central Asian region and in the future be included in the list of the leading financial centers in Asia," said the Kazakh leader."The financial center of Astana is a new page of independent Kazakhstan, its launch is an important step towards the consistent and sustainable development of our economy " he added.

"I am participating in this great, significant event in our capital with a feeling of excitement and happiness on the eve of the 20th anniversary of the young capital of the country, Kazakhstan became the only state in the world that built a beautiful capital in a bare steppe," said Nazarbayev.

For the Kazakh Deputy Foreign Minister, Roman Vassilenko, "the whole idea of the Astana International Financial Center is to serve as the hub for Central Asia, but also for the Silk Road project".

The Chinese "One Belt, One Road" initiative aims to revitalize trade and commerce along the lines of the old Silk Road by modernizing its infrastructures and telecommunications to improve connectivity between Asia and Europe.

Chinese financial institutes will operate in the AIFC and are expected to bring some $40 billion dollars of investment to the table.

"What we need as a country is capital market investments, so I hope that with the AIFC we will open a new era for Kazakhstan," said Umut Shayakhmetova, CEO of Kazakhstan's biggest lender, Halyk Bank.

In addition, the AIFC has taken measures to reduce the bureaucratic obstacles experienced by foreign investors, who according to the head of AIFC, Kairat Kelimbetov, are "the most important thing for the success of the financial center."

In this sense, the Kazakh financial center is creating a barrier-free environment for new businesses, which will mean greater accessibility and greater speed when undertaking business in the Central Asian country.

Kelimbetov, who recalled that the AIFC is the only financial center in the area of the former Soviet Union, emphasized its privileged geographical position between Europe and Asia.

"We have a leading position in Central Asia and have the first and only financial center in former Soviet Union Space, which implements the principals of English Common law, with legal systems that allow the better practice," he said.

The institution has strengthened its court and arbitration center based on English common law to establish safeguards against external interference, especially government interference, and malpractice.

The AIFC was created in the image of the financial centers of Singapore and Dubai, with English as a working language, British values and corporate law and tax incentives to attract global companies and investors.

In addition, its creation base is heading towards blockchain and cryptocurrencies.

The Spanish Ambassador to Kazakhstan, Pedro José Sanz Serrano, said the AIFC would "attract many companies from all over, including Spanish companies that may be interested in developing their business in this part of the world with so many opportunities."

The financial initiative is located in the former territory of the International Expo 2017 which has a modern infrastructure and the latest technologies.

Chinese investments in Kazakhstan from the "One Belt, One Road" initiative, will help diversify the Kazakh economy.

The financial center aims to put about two dozen companies on the market of which the sovereign wealth fund of Kazakhstan, Samruk Kazyna, is the majority owner. Those sales will be handled by the new Astana International Exchange (AIX) with the assistance of Nasdaq and the Shanghai Stock Exchange.