The President of the Kyrgyz Republic, H.E. Roza Otunbayeva attended the Kyrgyz Opportunities Forum, a conference organized by the Kyrgyz-North America Trade Council and Chadbourne & Park LLP, in New York on Sept 23rd. President Otunbayeva was in New York to discuss opportunities for cooperation, trade and sales with US/Canadian companies and investors.
Other noted speakers at this forum included Ambassador Robert O. BLAKE who is the Assistant Secretary of State, South and Central Asian Affairs, U.S. Department of State, Canada’s Former Ambassador to Russia, Rodney IRWIN who is the Chairman of the Board of Stans Energy Corp. and the Honorary Consul of the Kyrgyz Republic for Canada, Frank Herbert from Centerra Gold, Hugh Mckinnon from Kentor Gold, and additional distinguished speakers and representatives of the Kyrgyz Government Agencies.
Following the forum, President Roza Otunbayeva was also scheduled to meet with U.S. President Barack Obama during the 65th UN General Assembly meeting in New York on Friday.
(Note: Video of President Otunbayeva speech will follow)
President Otunbayeva’s heartfelt message to the audience was backed by a presentation that provided an overview of the specific plans she and her government have set in motion to establish business-friendly legislation in her country. This legislation is directed at enhancing cooperation, trade and sales opportunities for US/Canadian companies and investors. This new legislation and other plans and will ensure the protection of foreign investments by creating a one stop shop for investors at the Ministry of Economic regulation, and implementing special economic zones.
The proposed Free Economic Zones (FEZ) will provide foreign businesses with several incentives which were warmly received by the audience in attendance. These benefits include: Partial exemptions from taxes, fees and charges; complete exemptions from customs duties on export/import of merchandise into and from the FEZ; simplified customs procedures; direct access to major infrastructure objects; and an assurance that foreign investments in FEZ cannot be nationalized.
Following the very successful constitutional referendum the country held in June, the Kyrgyz national elections are scheduled to be held on October 10th. Projections are that a coalition government will be formed from five or more of the parties running in the election.
Delegates at the forum were assured that the Kyrgyz government is enacting laws to ensure that under no circumstances will legitimate transactions by foreign companies’ in Kyrgyzstan ever be threatened without legal, documented cause. The Kyrgyz officials stated they recognize that property rights are the number one concern for foreign investors and, in response, the government is making property rights legislation and laws to support them, their number one economic concern. The delegates were assured of the government’s commitment – at all levels – for clear and reasonable rules and laws. To achieve this, the Kyrgyz government has engaged the US and other law making specialists to help design these property laws.
The government is also taking steps to prevent corruption amongst its elected officials. They are enacting rules whereby anyone who wishes to run for an elected seat in the government will now have to undergo to a lie detector test.
Although the Kyrgyz economic outlook for 2010 is relatively austere, the country is looking to get back on track in 2011. Once the coalition government begins working to address the needs of the country, they will strive to achieve a growth rate of 20%, which they believe to be attainable given that they are coming off of a low base in 2010.
Lastly, there was a general emphasis placed on mining and mineral development in the country. The Kyrgyz government has witnessed, and participated in, the country-wide economic benefits that have come from the only mine currently operating in the country – Centerra Gold’s Kumtor mine. President Otunbayeva is hoping that one or two more mines in the country can move to production within the coming 2 years.
Several senior executives from corporations that have interests and ongoing operations in Kyrgyzstan spoke at the forum.