Central Asia’s answer to Dubai? In Kazakhstan’s Astana, existence bites

No press packages, no cheerleading videos, no sharp PowerPoint presentations and nary a pre-arranged speak with a bigwig. For a mega expo positioned as Kazakhstan’s coming-out celebration on a universe stage, a arrangements for media familiarisation in a collateral of Astana couldn’t have been some-more half-hearted.

The three-month expo, due to open subsequent Jun and meant to showcase Astana as a Dubai of Central Asia, was creatively estimated to cost adult to US$3 billion and attract 5 million visitors. But most has altered given a expo was designed in a oil-exporting nation. The line marketplace has left bust, a banking is in giveaway fall, and a ripples of China’s slack have begun to be felt in a neighbourhood.

Dotted with glitzy towers and a cranes that build them, Astana transposed Almaty as a collateral in 1997, on a sequence of peremptory personality Nursultan Nazarbayev, a nation’s usually boss given it gained autonomy after a retraction of a Soviet Union in 1991.

“Unfortunately we can't spell out a budget,” pronounced Alisher Pirmetov, emissary authority of a state-owned Astana Expo-2017 National Company.

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Pirmetov’s hostility to speak numbers mirrors a doubt that has engulfed Kazakhstan recently. A pivotal fan and trade partner of China, Kazakhstan is in a hold of a long mercantile downturn. Oil accounts for around a fifth of Kazakhstan’s sum domestic product, half a bill income and 76 per cent of a exports.

Kazakhstan’s economy was flourishing during a rate of 4 to 7 per cent between 2011 and 2014, before oil prices collapsed in mid-2014. Last year it grew only 1.2 per cent and shrank 0.2 per cent in a initial entertain this year. To pillow a economy from a oil crash, Kazakhstan switched from a managed trade rope complement to a floating sell rate regime in Aug final year.

But that hasn’t stopped a currency, a tenge, from dropping scarcely 45 per cent, serve denting a economy.

To opposite a post-devaluation emanate of inflation, a seductiveness rate has been lifted to 17 per cent this year from only underneath 6 per cent in September.

As a outcome of a tenge’s debasement and a oil cost plunge, Kazakhstan’s trade change this year incited disastrous for a initial time given 2009.

And, not even vicinity to China seems to be of any help. Kazakhstan, that is a world’s largest land-locked republic and borders Russia, China, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, is a linchpin of China’s “One Belt, One Road” growth devise in Central Asia. Astana is a hearth of President Xi Jinping’s (習近平) pet devise directed during commercially integrating China with Central and South Asia, a Middle East and Europe. It was here in 2013 that Xi initial spelt out a process in a debate during a university named after Nazarbayev.

China’s one belt, one highway devise covers some-more than half of a population, 75 per cent of appetite resources and 40 per cent of world’s GDP

As a region’s largest economy, Kazakhstan’s oil, uranium and copper resources make it a primary vital fan for China. For Kazakhstan, closer mercantile ties with China also assistance it revoke a faith on Russia, itself mired in retrogression as a outcome of a oil unemployment and Western sanctions following a cast of Crimea in 2014.

China contributed 7.8 per cent of tellurian unfamiliar approach investment into Kazakhstan in 2014, compared to 6.7 per cent by Russia. China also engrossed 12 per cent of Kazakhstan’s oil-dominated exports final year, while Chinese products – especially machine and electronic products – accounted for 16.8 per cent of Kazakhstan’s imports. Russia, meanwhile, took adult 9.5 per cent of a exports and contributed 33.9 per cent of a imports.

As direct for oil flags, Chinese businesses are increasingly branch to Kazakhstan’s dull cultivation and food processing. But Chinese seductiveness in leasing rural plots has sparked singular open protests.

Consistent domestic will is indispensable to safeguard one belt, one highway beginning succeeds

“Kazakh people are sap of traffic with a Chinese, they are disturbed about a risk of losing control over their assets,” pronounced Joseph Chan Nap-kee, authority of Hong Kong-listed Kaisun Energy Group.

“Being a large nation a distance of Western Europe with a tiny race of around 17.5 million, intensity troops threats are always during a behind of their minds … a Kazakh people are utterly unwavering that they need to be on good terms with, though not too reliant on, Russia and China.”

Four years ago Kaisun invested in spark mines in beside Tajikistan and has been scouting for investment opportunities in Central Asia.

Due to Kazakhstan’s tiny domestic market, investment opportunities outward a resources industries were limited, though cultivation and food estimate were areas of flourishing interest, quite after a banking devaluation, Chan said.

Astana is equally penetrating to variegate a nation’s economy divided from a resources sector, with a dull tourism attention a aim sector.