While many people’s perceptions of Kazakhstan will be driven by Sacha Baron Cohen’s satirical film Borat, the country is awash with opportunities for foreign companies looking for business.
An EY survey from 2012 suggested that it will be one of the world’s fastest growing economies by 2020 and the World Bank ranks it among the top 50 countries for ease of doing business.
Mark Higgins, an international trade advisor for UKTI, the government department responsible for exports, says that perceptions of Kazakhstan need to change.
He says: I can say that the country has definitely changed and evolved from my previous experiences of doing business there over 6 years ago.
For people with open minds and the ability to build long term relationships, with a reliable partner the opportunities are as big as the country itself.”
There are particular opportunities within the oil and gas sector, which accounts for 80 per cent of exports, but as its economy diversifies there will be opportunities in everything from security to food, education and IT.
A recent UKTI trade visit helped technology provider Concept Com Technologies sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and apply for contracts totalling 900,000.
MD Andy Stewart says: The visit proved very useful in enabling the meeting of a variety of decision makers, advisors and those with experience of working in Kazakhstan. I also met with potential partners for selling, distribution and support of the technologies I represent.
In particular the briefings by local legal and business firms proved most interesting and helpful. Meeting the entrepreneurs also helped understand the market place and the representative for the city Almaty stated his interest in all 3 of my technologies.