Central Asia is turning into an increasingly attractive market for European businesses. According to the Deputy Director of the Institute for Foreign Affairs and Trade in Budapest, Laszlo Vasa, the European Union will boost the inflow of investments to the region. The European Union and Central Asia are actively cooperating in many fields, after the European Union (EU) strategy for Central Asia was adopted 11 years ago.   

LASZLO VASA, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, INSTITUTE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND TRADE, HUNGARY:

 - The strategy itself is not really focusing on the economic and trade issues, but, in fact, the economic cooperation is going very well especially with Kazakhstan which is the wealthiest and really a kind of market economy type country in the region. In this regard I really feel that the European Union is rather trying to improve the business cooperation and the promotion of investments.

Today, half of the foreign direct investments in Kazakhstan's economy come from the EU. The majority of the investments areconcentrated in the mining and manufacturing industries. More companies from the EU are trying to open businesses in the financial services sector, hotel industry and constructions, which is a new trend in the Kazakh economy. According to experts, Kazakhstan created the most attractive environment for investors in the region, including tax preferences, legal support, as well as special economic zones.

LASZLO VASA, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, INSTITUTE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND TRADE, HUNGARY:

- We can talk about real investments, FDI investments in Kazakhstan, and in a very small proportion in Uzbekistan. Actually the regulatory framework in Kazakhstan is very advanced for accepting foreign direct investments. And even the multilateral and bilateral relations are very active between the European Union and Kazakhstan.

The expert notes that the EU will support the Central Asian countries with diversification of their economies. The EU will also offer the regional countries a system of preferences for tariff-free shipment of goods to the European market. The union will also provide support with the World Trade Organization accession. So far, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan are the only countries in the region that are not the members of the WTO. 

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