25 июня 2015 17:43

Kazakhstan's membership in WTO to attract foreign investments: Kazakh Chamber of Entrepreneurs


©Tengrinews ©Tengrinews

After nearly two decades of negotiations Kazakhstan and World Trade Organization (WTO) members have finally agreed on the terms of accession of the Central Asian nation into the organization.

After nearly two decades of negotiations Kazakhstan and World Trade Organization (WTO) members have finally agreed on the terms of accession of the Central Asian nation into the organization.

Kazakhstan's road has been a long one. It first submitted the application on January 29, 1996. Members of the Working Group called the process that followed "one of the most challenging negotiations" in the history of the WTO.

Deputy Chairman of the Board of Kazakhstan's National Chamber of Entrepreneurs Rakhim Oshakbayev shared his opinion on the advantages of Kazakhstan's accession into the WTO with Tengrinews.

According to Rakhim Oshakbayev, there are at least two major benefits for Kazakhstan in becoming an official member of the WTO. "90 percent of our trade is done with WTO members. Now, in case of any trade disputes, our companies will have access to international mechanisms and institutions for settlement of their disputes. Secondly, the membership in the WTO is an indicator telling the international community that Kazakhstan observes civilized and internally accepted trade principles. Again, should any trade disputes arise, they (Kazakhstani companies) will be able to appeal to the WTO rules. Our membership in the WTO is an important instrument attracting foreign investments," Rakhim Oshakbayev said. 

The negotiations on Kazakhstan's accession into the WTO were held behind closed doors. "This means that a number of countries, including Russia, were ascending on the same terms. The information about the conditions of Kazakhstan's entry into the WTO is not intended for public disclosure. Business associations and non-governmental organizations do not have access to this information. No consultations with the business community. We are now expecting a meeting with the Minister of Economic Integration Zhanar Aitzhanova, who will update us on the terms of Kazakhstan's entry into the WTO," Rakhim Oshakbayev said.

Since each country enters the WTO independently and negotiates the terms of entry on its own behalf, there are 3,171 commodities for which the import customs rates will be lower than the current Common Customs Tariff applied at the territory of the Customs Union that includes Kazakhstan. According to Rakhim Oshakbayev, these are the products of food industry, light industry, processing industry, pharmaceutical industry, ferrous metals, machinery, aircraft as well as various industrial goods.

In this context Kazakhstan faces some difficulties, he said, since at the same time the Central Asian nation is a member of the Eurasian Economic Union of Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan.

"Once we establish the lower rates for these specific items upon our accession into the WTO, there will be a risk of these goods being re-exported to Russia, Belarus and other member-countries. Thus, the state authorities and the Eurasian Economic Commission have to establish effective mechanisms to make sure that an additional fee is charged to compensate the difference in the customs rates when these goods cross borders within the Eurasian Economic Union. Various methods are being discussed and there is no final decision yet," Oshakbayev said.

 Kazakhstan will officially become the 162nd member of the WTO at the 10th Ministerial Conference of the WTO in Kenya on December 15-19, 2015. Until then, some formalities are still to be settled.

When speaking about Kazakhstan's membership in the WTO on June 22, Nazarbayev said it opened new opportunities and horizons for Kazakhstan's economy.  For the country's companies it provides access to the foreign markets, while for people it provided a wider choice of products. Moreover, according to the Kazakh leader, membership in the WTO made Kazakhstan a more attractive place for foreign and domestic investors.

Writing by Assel Satubaldina, editing by Tatyana Kuzmina

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