Kazakhstan — Monaco: a new stage of relations

Sept 28. Kazpravda. Monaco

By Zhanay Omarov

Kazakhstan — Monaco: a new stage of relationsPresident Nursultan Nazarbayev paid an official visit to the Principality of Monaco.

Monaco is a very interesting partner from the viewpoint of bilateral relations. Despite its small size, the country is on the list of leaders in GDP per capita (USD 163 000 in 2012), and it is at a near-zero inflation, absence of external debt and of the budget deficit. Construction, healthcare, social services, environmental protection are actively developing there, as well as gaming business that brought worldwide fame to Monaco. Tourism accounts for a big share of revenues. The state with less than a 40 000 population is annually visited by more than 5 million people from all over the world. This is perhaps the only EU nation that was not only spared of unemployment in the crisis, but also took in labor force from France, Italy and other European countries. The Principality is a template of building an efficient diversified economy, maintaining a supportive social environment.

On its part Kazakhstan is interested in attracting the capital and technologies of Monaco for the priority projects under PAIID, the country’s experience in building an enabling business environment that would ensure strong economic performance.

Despite a short diplomatic relations record (since January 2009), the mutual interest is only growing, which is evidenced by the dynamics of high level contacts. In November last year, Albert II, the reigning Prince of Monaco first paid an official visit to Kazakhstan.

The return visit of our President is meant to clinch the previously reached agreements on the development of the entire spectrum of partnership, the main directions of which were set in the joint statement of the two state leaders.

The official visit started with a ceremony in the square in front of the Palace of His Serene Highness the Prince of Monaco Albert II, followed by talks in a narrow circle, on political, trade, economic and investment cooperation.

As President Nursultan Nazarbayev noted, Kazakhstan sees Monaco as a promising partner in Southern Europe. Last year’s visit of the Prince of Monaco to Kazakhstan laid the foundation for bilateral cooperation, which helped to promote business relations between the two countries, the potential of which is yet to be further tapped.

Kazakhstan President said our country is interested in attracting Monaco companies for innovative projects, particularly in the areas where the Principality has competitive advantages , including energy-efficient construction, renewable energy , tourism industry, service infrastructure , healthcare, pharmaceuticals and electronics industry.

As a member of the Customs Union, Kazakhstan has ample market opportunities for this country’s business.

Monaco prioritizes the environmental protection, and in this context, cooperation in green economy was tried, including under the «Green Bridge» partnership program, as well as participation in the preparation and holding of the EXPO-2017 in Astana.

Subsequent to the meeting, the Kazakh Deputy Prime Minister — Minister of Industry and New Technologies Asset Issekeshev and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Principality of Monaco Jose Badia, signed a coop agreement in tourism.

Cultural and humanitarian cooperation was negotiated to which the exhibition in Astana “Grace Kelly , Princess of Monaco, ” opened during the visit of the Prince to our country, gave momentum. Cooperation between the Astana Opera and the Monte Carlo Opera is another interest area. A season of Kazakhstan Culture in France next year will give Monaco residents an opportunity to learn about the Kazakh culture and art.

The meeting also discussed interaction within international organizations, specifically the UN; affinity of positions on major international issues was stated.

Albert II awarded Kazakhstan President with the St. Charles Order, in turn Nursultan Nazarbayev awarded the Prince of Monaco a “Dostyk” I degree Order.

After the talks and a working lunch with Prince Albert II of Monaco, the Kazakh President made an entry in the guests of honor book, then visited the Oceanographic Museum that hosted the presentation on urban and financial development of the Principality. The Minister of State Michel Roger, Minister of Finance and Economy Jean Castellini, the Minister for Social Affairs and Public Health- St?phane Valeri , Minister of Environment and Urban Planning Marie-Pierre Gramaglia described the status and outlook of the respective areas , in particular plans for the construction of Princess Grace Hospital , as well as further urban development on the Principality’s small territory.

In his response, Nursultan Nazarbayev re-emphasized the presence of opportunities and potential for further development of comprehensive cooperation between Kazakhstan and Monaco, and that the experience of the Principality in economic and social development would be useful to our country.

– Last year’s visit of Albert II, exhibition of Princess Grace in Kazakhstan and my visit are first pages on our countries’ relations’ record, he added, stressing the commonality of the two countries in prioritizing education, healthcare, and engagement in active construction .

– The difference is that Monaco is doing it on just two square kilometers, and Kazakhstan — on two million seven hundred thousand square kilometers. Monaco has a long history, imbibing the experience of the world, while we are just beginning our independent way and we have much to learn, — said the President.

Nursultan Nazarbayev also mentioned that Monaco has zero foreign debt, and Kazakhstan’s current national debt is 4-5% of GDP, budget deficit is 3.5%. And it is while the national reserves of the country make 90 billion dollars, which also gives the ground to talk of a deficit-free and debt-free budget. We need to study the experience of Monaco banking system, where the share of foreign banks is 95 % and this does not impair its sustainability and dynamic development.

– It’s amazing that a country with such a small territory is undertaking such scaled tasks. We will seek to expand cooperation with Monaco, including in medicine, education, and development of the legal system.

Nursultan Nazarbayev thanked His Highness Prince Albert II for the hospitality extended to him and to Kazakhstan delegation and wished Monaco successful development and greater future.

The President also held talks with Minister of State Michel Roger, the heads of the leading infrastructure companies of the Principality: CEO of the Swissport International P. Utnegaard and Vice President of Finance of the Flughafen Zurich AG- Mr. Shmukki to discuss the issues of the Eurasian transport infrastructure, also the outlook for cooperation in the development of Kazakhstan’s airports to bring them up to the international standards. They resolved on signing memoranda on establishing joint ventures to manage the network of airports.

The economic constituent of President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s official visit was complemented by the business forum «Monaco — Kazakhstan «, attended by Deputy Prime Minister — Minister of Industry and New Technologies Asset Issekeshev . It was organized by the RK Ministry of Industry and Trade, Kazakhstan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Embassy of Kazakhstan in France and the Principality of Monaco, also the Ministry of Finance and Economy and the Chamber of economic development of this country.

The forum discussed cooperation in real estate, tourism, transport and logistics, oil and gas, food processing and banking. It was resolved to establish a Joint Business Council and sign an agreement between the Kazakh Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Chamber of Economic Development of the Principality.

The upshot of the business forum was the signed bilateral contracts the sum of more than $73 million. They include a memorandum of the National Export & Investment Agency KAZNEX INVEST and Monaco Management Construction company on the construction in Almaty of composite panels production, worth $ 24.5 million. The same company of Monaco entered into an agreement with Astana Trade International and Kyzylorda region’s administration. Cooperation is planned in the construction of hotels and service stations. A Centre will be established to train professionals in the area.

Among other initiatives is a bilateral coop agreement between JSC «Kaznex Invest» and the company Go On Group. Most promising directions open up in new technologies, specifically, a project for the greenhouses and solar power plants in Kyzylorda region, with the share of Monegasque investment company Hydroconcept solar.

The Forum ended in negotiations between the two countries’ businessmen.