(As Prepared for Delivery)
October 26, 2018 (9:45 – 10:30)
Good morning. Ambassador Kazykhanov, Deputy Akim Madiyev, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, it is my great pleasure to welcome the first ever U.S. Department of Commerce Certified Trade Mission to Kazakhstan.
I would like to thank the Akim and the City of Almaty, colleagues at Kazakh Invest and Atamaken, and the many others that have made this event possible.
I would especially like to thank Sarah Nickel from the U.S. Kazakhstan Business Association and the 16 American companies that have made this trade mission to Kazakhstan a reality.
The goal of this mission is to facilitate mutually-beneficial, long term Kazakhstani-American business partnerships in agriculture, energy and infrastructure – industry sectors that are a key part of Kazakhstan’s economic development.
Yesterday in Astana, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, along with Deputy Prime Minister Askar Mamin, witnessed the business-to-business signings of eight commercial deals and Memorandums of Understanding with six different U.S. companies as part of this historic trade mission to Kazakhstan.
I call this trade mission historic for several reasons. In January, President Trump welcomed President Nazarbayev to the White House, where our leaders agreed to create an enhanced strategic partnership to come together and discuss our shared goals and challenges. This mission and Secretary Ross’s visit are a direct result of that historic meeting.
Today’s forum is especially memorable for me as this is my first official commercial event as the U.S. Consul General in Almaty. As someone who worked in the private sector before joining our diplomatic service, I am committed to creating new opportunities for U.S. business in Kazakhstan. Bolstering exports and supporting investment mean better jobs, greater opportunity, and shared prosperity for both our peoples.
The United States was the first country to recognize Kazakhstan’s independence in 1991, and U.S. companies were some of the first to do business in this newly independent country. Without a doubt, the extensive business ties between our two great countries are a cornerstone of our strong and growing bilateral partnership.
Sovereign, independent, and dynamic, Kazakhstan over the past nearly 27 years has established a thriving economy and invested wisely in its future through ambitious education and infrastructure projects.
Since 1991, American companies have invested more than 27 billion dollars in Kazakhstan, making the United States Kazakhstan’s second largest source of foreign investment.
Kazakhstan continues to improve its business climate, moving up to 36th place on the World Bank Doing Business Report this year. We applaud President Nazarbayev’s ambitious plans to develop a diverse and innovative economy.
The City of Almaty is at the forefront of this initiative. I know Akim Baibek is keenly focused on making it easy to do business here.
Almaty is a center of business and innovation not only for Kazakhstan, but for the entire Central Asian region. That’s of course why our trade mission has come here today. Top U.S. companies are working in Almaty and our American Chamber of Commerce is headquartered here.
Almaty is also a hub of entrepreneurship and innovation. It’s the home of the American Space and Makerspace Almaty, both of which are made possible by strategic public-private partnerships. American Space Almaty partners with Smart.Point, a Silicon-valley style co-working space bustling with tech start-ups and microbusinesses. Makerspace Almaty, which receives generous support from Chevron, is an innovative technology hub that encourages learning by doing and creative problem solving through technology.
For example, a team of three Kazakhstani girls who attended the Makerspace Almaty Girls in STEM Camp took 1st place in the National Championship for Innovation conducted by the National Agency of Technology Development. They created a self-stabilizing spoon for people with Parkinson’s disease and won a trip to Singapore for additional STEM training.
As we move forward with our enhanced strategic partnership, we will continue to work with Kazakhstan to establish a fair and reciprocal trading relationship, ensure a conducive business climate, and promote greater connectivity of Kazakhstan and the entire Central Asian region to the global economy.
This trade mission and the relationships you will develop here today will deepen the commercial interconnectivity between our two countries, helping grow our respective economies and create jobs in both Kazakhstan and the United States.
As U.S. Consul General in Almaty, I look forward to helping strengthen U.S.-Kazakhstan commercial ties and working with Kazakhstan as it diversifies its economic base in sectors including agriculture, infrastructure, and IT services.
I wish the trade mission delegates and all of you a very successful day and prosperity for your business.