Astana Economic Forum, Kazakhstan

Flagship debates: The new business climate for the private sector: what are the rules of the game?

Ladies and gentlemen,

Constant change and uncertainty are ever-present in today’s globalised world. The predictability of global developments from both an economic and political perspective has substantially diminished over the last few years. It is clear that this is the new normal – or who would dare to predict otherwise? This is certainly a challenge for the banking sector, including the EIB – the long-term financing institution of the European Union, which has an annual financing volume of over EUR 80 billion and whose loans have an average maturity of over 10 years.

As important as understanding the rapid change, however, is realizing that not everything is changing. Certain megatrends, such as urbanisation, digitalisation and the fight against climate change are not losing importance. For that reason, issues like innovation, smart infrastructure, the green economy and booming entrepreneurship will remain key drivers of economies around the world.

All this requires substantial investment. Currently, investment in Europe has barely reached pre-crisis levels, even if interest rates are at an all-time low and liquidity is ample. This clearly demonstrates that liquidity alone is not enough. There has to be confidence among the market participants and willingness to take risk.

Stable and predictable business environments, and a high level of skills and competences in the labour force, as well as business-friendly regulatory frameworks are gaining importance as a competitive advantage. The quality of strategic infrastructure in a broad sense, an economy run in a sustainable way and the level of diversification are not losing their importance – quite the opposite.

Let me conclude with some words about our role here in Kazakhstan. The EIB actively supports SMEs and private sector development through local banks. At the same time, as the world’s largest provider of climate-related finance, we place particular emphasis on investments supporting climate action projects.

We see an increased role for private sector participation in enhancing the competitiveness of the Kazakh economy. This could be achieved, for example, in the form of private-public partnerships and project finance, where the EIB has long-term experience in Europe and beyond. Combining the best of both the public and private sectors will be key in Kazakhstan’s quantum leap into a sustainable and diversified economic model. We aim to continue playing our role in this journey as a reliable and long-term European partner for Kazakhstan.

Thank you for your attention.