Kazakhstan is clear that it wants to attract investment from the West. In the capital, a high-tech financial center (Nor-Sultan) has been built that offers a wide range of services to foreign companies wishing to invest in the country.
Astana International Financial Center (AIFC) www.aifc.kz is inspired by similar institutions in New York, London, Dubai, Hong Kong and Singapore. For example, the Kazakhstan Stock Exchange, Astana International Exchange (AIX), has a strategic partnership with the Shanghai Stock Exchange, while the NASDAQ exchange giant has provided the trading platform for AIX.
Kazakhstan and Central Eurasia are emerging markets that are experiencing increasing interest from investors and financial environments in the West. The Nor-Sultan International Financial Center, established in 2015, is also keen to invite Norwegian companies and investors to the country.
Kazakhstan is also keen to show that it is safe to invest in the country. At AIFC, therefore, a separate court and a center for mediation and arbitration have been established, operating entirely independently of Kazakhstan’s other judiciary.
An independent court for commercial conflicts
The AIFC Court www.aifc-court.kz is an independent legal entity, with its own case law – modeled on, and inspired by, international practice. The AIFC Court is completely separate and independent from the courts of the Republic of Kazakhstan.
International Arbitration Center (IAC) www.aifc-iac.kz is the independent legal entity for arbitration and mediation in commercial matters – such as oil and gas, trade, construction, energy, financial services, banking, finance, insurance and intellectual property.
Christopher Campbell-Holt, chief executive of the Court and Arbitration Center, says that they are now “a leader in good commercial dispute resolution institutions in Central Asia. We have done this because we want to attract investment, including from Norway .”
Today, there are approximately 25 registered Norwegian companies cooperating with other players in Kazakhstan, and more are on the way.
AIFC is very proud of the legal institutions that have been established to resolve commercial conflicts. The Dispute Resolution Center means that businesses and individuals from anywhere in the world can bring a dispute to trial here.
Want to be used by Norwegian companies
“We want Norwegian companies with agreements in Central Asia to include the AIFC court and the IAC in the dispute settlement clauses in their business contracts,” says Campbell-Holt. In 2019, the AIFC court and IAC (International Arbitration Center) handled five cases.
Through a massive campaign, Kazakhstan has in recent years mobilized law students and lawyers to be trained by the AIFC court and the IAC to ensure competence in dispute resolution to Western standards. To achieve this, they have partnered with Cambridge University and the Center for Effective Dispute Resolution in London.
CEO Campbell-Holt comments on this: “We have received international recognition for good, fast-paced, accessible, and cost-effective dispute resolution solutions.”
Want more privatization
The Finance Center website states that “Our goal is to support Kazakhstan’s policy of modernization and growth, to make the business environment more reliable, to attract capital to accelerate the country’s economic development, and to offer companies that come here with advanced, safe and effective investment instruments.”
The private sector accounts for 35 per cent of the country’s GDP, and the goal is further privatization. “Kazakhstan will act as a window for investment, enabling growth opportunities to be exploited in all countries in Central Asia and neighboring countries – in the Middle East and in China,” the website states.
With the AIFC, Kazakhstan has the advantage of initiatives such as the “Belt Road” project and the Eurasian Economic Union. In the future, these initiatives will dramatically change the region’s economic landscape. AIFC is an important instrument for making Kazakhstan a regional, economic hub.
Source: Kazakhstan Embassy in Norway / Norway Today