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Kazakhstan president takes part in working meeting of Foreign Investors Council

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Under the chairmanship of the head of state, a working meeting of the Council of Foreign Investors under the president of the Republic of Kazakhstan was held in the format of a video conference. During the event, divided into two sessions, measures to restore economic and investment activity in Kazakhstan in the context of the coronavirus pandemic, as well as issues of developing and increasing the investment attractiveness of the country's oil and gas sector, were discussed in detail.

Welcoming the meeting participants, the head of state said that the global pandemic has had a negative impact on almost all spheres of life of countries, and noted the importance of joining efforts in the fight against its consequences.

Kassym-Jomart Tokayev (pictured) expressed gratitude to the companies in the Council, which did not stand aside during this difficult period for Kazakhstan, and provided significant assistance to their business employees, to the social sphere and to the citizens of the country.

According to the President, the state has taken a set of unprecedented measures during the pandemic to support businesses and the population, which made it possible to reduce the negative consequences of the crisis and avoid a serious economic recession.

He also pointed out the need for serious transformations and reforms aimed at increasing investment attractiveness, ensuring transparency and predictability of government policies. To achieve these goals, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev put forward a number of proposals and initiatives.

As the first task, the head of state outlined the creation of new investment instruments. For this, in accordance with his instructions, the mechanism of the Strategic Investment Agreement has already been developed, which will ensure guaranteed stability of legislative conditions on the part of the state for the entire period of its validity.

Kassym-Jomart Tokayev also focused on the need to improve the business climate in the country. The government will prepare a new regulatory system. All control and supervisory, permit and other regulatory instruments will be subject to a large-scale audit.

The president also focused on the issue of ecology, informing the foreign participants of the meeting about the development of a new Environmental Code, prepared on the basis of the innovative approach of the OECD member countries.

Enterprises that have implemented these technologies will be exempted from emission fees. Let me emphasize that such a mechanism, when the state shares environmental costs with enterprises, does not exist in every country. In fact, this is a large-scale public-private partnership project. We deliberately chose this approach. We expect that the businesses will fully fulfil its part of the agreements,” Kassym-Jomart Tokayev said.

The head of state also highlighted the possibilities of the IT sector, which, in the face of the negative consequences of the pandemic, provided a powerful incentive for the accelerated development of the digital economy. According to him, the development of the domestic IT industry, where Kazakhstan plans to attract at least 500 billion tenge within five years, requires serious support from global technology companies.

Today, about 6% of the world's digital mining is concentrated in Kazakhstan. In addition, the development of the IT market, engineering and other high-tech services opens up serious opportunities for export. We plan to attract investments from major global players in the field of cloud computing and platforms. Preparatory work has begun on the construction of four mega-data processing centres - in Nur-Sultan, Almaty, Shymkent and Atyrau. They have colossal computing power that will be located on a large international information highway,” the head of state noted.

Kassym-Jomart Tokayev stressed the importance of developing the domestic pharmaceutical industry. The president said that by 2025 Kazakhstan expects to increase the share of its own pharmaceutical production in the country to 50%. In addition, the production of medical equipment and consumables will be actively developed. These areas are open for investment, and such projects, as was noted in the speech, will receive full support from the state.

Within the framework of the event, issues of development and improvement of the investment climate in the oil and gas sector were separately discussed.

Addressing the participants, the president noted that this industry has become a driving force in attracting foreign investment to Kazakhstan. The development of this area has contributed to the rise of new sectors of the economy, such as oil refining, petrochemicals, oilfield services, pipeline and sea transportation.

Kassym-Jomart Tokayev believes that in the face of declining demand for oil and a decrease in the investment attractiveness of this industry, a difficult adaptation to new realities lies ahead, and a significant part of this adaptation will be associated with state policy.

In this context, the head of state called for joint efforts to address a number of important tasks.

Kassym-Jomart Tokayev pointed out the importance of the timely completion of large oil and gas projects at the Tengiz, Karachaganak and Kashagan fields. In particular, the President instructed to timely implement the transition to the full-scale development of Kashagan and accelerate the implementation of the project to build a gas processing plant at this field.

The president also drew attention to increasing the investment attractiveness of geological exploration. He instructed the Government, together with oil and gas companies, to improve the sectoral regulatory framework, taking into account the current realities and vision for the future development of the industry.

Focusing on the prospects of the oil and gas chemical industry, the president expressed the opinion that success in promoting this area can significantly change the specialization of Kazakhstan.

The ministry of energy should think about the possibility of providing special conditions for the production and export of oil and gas for companies willing to invest in refining projects,” Kassym-Jomart Tokayev said.

In addition, the head of state noted the importance of environmental protection and the development of a low-carbon economy. He recalled that in 2021 a new Environmental Code will come into force in line with advanced international standards. The president urged interested stakeholders to contribute to the development of this extensive policy document.

Summarizing his participation in the event, the president assured that all the proposals and requests made during the meeting will be carefully worked out by the government and will be taken under its personal control.

The government will tackle the problems that were voiced by the participants of today's important meeting. I believe we need a breakthrough in the decision-making process. As the president of the country, I will closely follow the decision-making process and the development of interaction with our major partners and friends,” Kassym-Jomart Tokayev concluded.

During the first session of the working meeting the following participants made statements: the president of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Ernst & Young, the Asian Development Bank, Baker McKenzie International, Citigroup, GE, J.P. Morgan Chase International, Marubeni Corporation, Sberbank of Russia, the World Bank, Shell Kazakhstan, Royal Dutch Shell plc, Eni S.p.A., Lukoil, Chevron, ExxonMobil, TOTAL, CNPC.

coronavirus

Italy reports 26,323 new coronavirus cases, 686 deaths

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Italy reported 686 COVID-19-related deaths on Saturday (28 November), against 827 the day before, and 26,323 new infections, down from 28,352 on Friday (27 November), the health ministry said, writes .

There were 225,940 swabs carried out in the past day, compared with a previous 222,803.

Italy was the first Western country to be hit by the virus and has seen 54,363 COVID-19 fatalities since its outbreak emerged in February, the second highest toll in Europe after Britain. It has also registered 1.564 million cases.

While Italy’s daily death tolls have been amongst the highest in Europe over recent days, the rise in hospital admissions and intensive care occupancy has slowed, suggesting the latest wave of infections was receding.

The health ministry said on Friday it would ease anti-COVID-19 restrictions in five regions as of 29 November, including in the country’s richest and most populous region, Lombardy.

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German minister says partial lockdown could last until Spring 2021

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Germany’s partial lockdown measures could be extended until early spring if infections are not brought under control, Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said in a newspaper interview published on Saturday (28 November), writes Caroline Copley.

Altmaier told Die Welt it was not possible to give the all-clear while there were incidences of more than 50 infections per 100,000 inhabitants in large parts of Germany.

“We have three to four long winter months ahead of us,” he was quoted as saying. “It is possible that the restrictions will remain in place in the first months of 2021.”

Chancellor Angela Merkel agreed with leaders of Germany’s 16 federal states on Wednesday to extend and tighten measures against the coronavirus until at least 20 December.

Germany imposed a “lockdown light” in early November, which closed bars and restaurants but allowed schools and shops to stay open. The measures have stopped the exponential growth of cases but infections have stabilised at a high level.

There were 21,695 new confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Saturday, bringing total cases since the pandemic began to 1,028,089.

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UK and France sign new deal to stop illegal migration across Channel

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Britain and France signed a new agreement to try to stop illegal migration across the Channel on Saturday (28 November), upping patrols and technology in the hope of closing off a dangerous route used by migrants to try to reach the UK on small boats, writes Sarah Young.

UK interior minister Priti Patel said that under the deal, the number of officers patrolling French beaches would double, and new equipment including drones and radar would be employed.

This year, hundreds of people, including some children, have been caught crossing to southern England from makeshift camps in northern France - navigating one of the world’s busiest shipping routes in overloaded rubber dinghies. Some migrants have drowned.

Patel said in statement that the agreement represented a step forward in the pair’s mission to make channel crossings unviable.

“Thanks to more police patrols on French beaches and enhanced intelligence sharing between our security and law enforcement agencies, we are already seeing fewer migrants leaving French beaches,” she said.

The UK and France plan to continue a close dialogue to reduce migratory pressures at the shared border over the next year, she added.

Patel told UK media that French authorities had stopped 5,000 migrants from travelling to the UK so far this year. She said over the last ten years, the UK had given France £150 pounds to tackle immigration.

She said the recent focus by authorities on stopping small boats meant they were now seeing more migrants trying to cross the Channel via lorries, and that border security was being tightened in France to try to stop that.

Britain is also planning to introduce a new asylum system through legislation next year, Patel said.

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