Belt and road initiative: new business opportunities

On May 23 an international business-conference called Belt and Road Initiative: New Business Opportunities arranged by First Heartland Bank was held in Almaty.

The Conference was attended by David Mashuri, Independent Director of First Heartland Bank, Shigeo Katsu, President of Nazarbayev University, Bolat Nurgaliyev, Secretary General of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (2007-2009), Member of the Social Council  of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Shakhid Yusuf, Growth Dialogue Leading Economist, George Washington University, Adjunct Professor of School of Advanced International Studies of Johns Hopkins University (США), Wei Fuk, Investment Director, DBS, and Natalya Marusich, Client Manager, DBS.

At the Conference speakers discussed problems and perspectives of Belt and Road Initiative and its influence on business and economic development in Kazakhstan.

Belt and Road project was mentioned for the first time in 2013. Kazakhstan was one of the first countries to support this initiative. Nowadays it is being actively implemented. For instance, this year, in March the first ever freight train departed from the Netherlands to China. Out of 11 thousand of kilometers of the road almost 3 thousand run via Kazakhstan.

Due to unique geographic location - in the center of Eurasia, Kazakhstan is able realize its potential under the BRI in full. According to Bolat Nurgaliyev, Kazakhstan’s active involvement in the BRI is quite logic and understandable.

It is based on thorough analysis of multiplicative effect of megaproject implementation; in particular elimination of trade barriers, attraction of financial resources, modernization of transit transport infrastructure, and integration with Nurly Zhol new economic policy– says Mr. Nurgaliyev.

In opinion of Shakhid Yusuf, who specializes in study of the BRI, China will enjoy the major advantages resulting from the project implementation. Mr. Yusuf says that the BRI will allow China employing surplus productive capacities in construction, transport, and telecommunications sectors.

About 89% of all Chinese financed contracts are concluded with Chinese companies – says Shakhid Yusuf.

He also noted that the BRI will increase China’s competitive ability in export market.With the BRI China will be able to diversify and deliver oil products. Recently created transport infrastructure allows reducing time for delivery of goods to Middle East and European markets – Yusif said. 

According to the expert’s opinion, Kazakhstan can receive profit due to the increased added value in logistics centers and other sites in the country. 

Khorgos dry port and adjacent Industrial Park made foundation for creation of logistics cluster. Rapidly growing railroad traffic via Altynkol station is very encouraging, as well as potential increase in freight traffic –Yusuf said. 

Summarizing the outcomes of the event speakers highlighted two main ideas in connection with influence of the BRI on Kazakhstan. The first is that this is a profitable process for Kazakhstan promoting development of the country. The second idea is that this project is advantageous mainly for Kazakhstan’s economic partners under the BRI and will influence the country to a less extent.

In conclusion David Mashuri, Independent Director, First Heartland Bank, noted importance of such dialogues with participation of experts in business, banking sector, and economic sciences, because they allow analyzing changing conditions and search solutions for increasing positive influence of BRI on Kazakhstan’s economy and business.

BRI may be compared to a huge ship that moves in the water and produces waves. Our response will determine whether we will be washed away or will adapt, ride the wave and move to a new level – concluded David Mashuri.