Kazakhstan and the OECD: Together for shared prosperity in Eurasia

 

This post is by Madina Abylkassimova, Vice Minister of National Economy of Kazakhstan

 

The partnership with OECD is a strategic priority for Kazakhstan and is in line with our long-term strategic goal of joining the ranks of the 30 most developed countries in the world. A government Council on the Co-operation with the OECD under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister reflects this commitment at the highest levels and helps to ensure a coherent, whole-of-government approach to the OECD. This approach is also reflected in the design and implementation of the OECD Kazakhstan Country Programme – a first-of-its-kind, deep and enhanced set of activities to help us to design our structural and institutional reforms on the basis of international evidence, best practices and standards. The Programme covers such diverse areas as public administration, competition policy, business and public-sector integrity, investment policy, green growth, healthcare, higher education, innovation and SME development. Its first phase, in 2015-16, involved 13 reviews and 7 capacity-building projects. Adherence to 29 OECD instruments is underway. Around a dozen new projects are now being launched, as the Programme has been renewed until end-2018.

The results of this joint work are helping us to broaden the scope of economic opportunities, social welfare and public services. Many OECD recommendations have already been implemented. For example, Kazakhstan has taken action to strengthen the autonomy and capacities of ministries in policy-making and to encourage transparency and greater involvement of citizens in policy making, monitoring and assessment. All but a handful of economic sectors are now free of specific foreign ownership limitations.[1] Moreover, the government has recently prepared a National Roadmap for action to ensure that the work done in the first phase of the Programme results in tangible reform progress. The Roadmap is the main vehicle for monitoring and assessing the implementation of 535 Country Programme recommendations. The most important of these have already been included in the most important strategic documents, such as the National Plan “100 Concrete Steps to Realise Five Institutional Reforms”, initiated by the Head of the State; the new Strategic Development Plan until 2025; the Concept on Family and Gender Policy for 2030; and the State Programme for the Development of the Agro-Industrial Complex for 2017-2021.

We want to build on this legacy. The next phase of our co-operation focuses on such topics as public procurement, budget management, public-private partnership, critical risks, or taxation. This work builds on the recommendations and findings that emerged from the Programme’s first phase. We are also honoured that Kazakhstan will host OECD Eurasia Week 2017, on 23-25 October in Almaty. This is not only a mark of our growing engagement with the OECD; it is also an opportunity for us to contribute to stronger relations among the Eurasia countries and to their closer involvement with the OECD.

Our deepening co-operation with the OECD is also helping to ensure that Kazakhstan’s voice is heard in international policy discussions. Since the Programme was launched, Kazakhstan has become a full Participant in four OECD bodies: the Committee on Statistics and Statistical Policy, the Competition Committee, and the Working Party on State Ownership and Privatisation Practices, the Committee for Scientific and Technological Policy. Furthermore we now have the status of an Associate of the OECD Investment Committee in Enlarged Session. This follows from its adherence to the OECD’s Declaration on International Investment and Multinational Enterprises and related instruments in June 2017. In short, our “place at the table” is now assured when OECD members discuss a growing range of critical issues. Moreover, despite our determination to learn from, and adopt, OECD standards and practices, the dialogue with the OECD and its members is not a one-way affair. In fields like e-governance and the management of natural resource rents, Kazakhstan’s experience and innovations are of increasing interest to OECD members. We are co-chairs of one of the workstreams in the OECD’s Policy Dialogue on Natural Resource-based Development (PD-NR). At the same time, our participation in wider global initiatives, like the OECD/G20 “Base Erosion and Profit-Shifting” (BEPS) initiative, which combats cross-border tax avoidance, marks a further strengthening of our involvement in international economic governance.

One of the lessons of the financial crisis almost a decade ago was that, in a globalised economy, multilateral action and the pursuit of common solutions are essential. Our economies are so intertwined that our pursuit of growth, equity and environmental sustainability requires increasing co-operation. We must embrace this fact and see it as an opportunity rather than a threat, an impetus to build better bridges between OECD Members and Partners and among the countries of Eurasia, fostering the exchange of experiences, the transfer of policy learning and, where necessary, effective policy co-ordination. Kazakhstan is committed to working with the OECD and with its neighbours to develop the analysis, the policies and the will to ensure that globalisation works for all.

High-level representatives from Eurasia and OECD countries will meet in Almaty, Kazakhstan on 23-25 October 2017 for the fourth annual OECD Eurasia Week, to exchange perspectives on “Openness for Shared Prosperity”, assess progress made, and discuss the region’s future reform agenda.

[1] The exceptions include mass-media, where equity limits apply, and fixed-lined telecommunications, where authorisation is required for foreign participation above a certain threshold, as well as in agricultural and forest land, and in the provision of security services.

 

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