Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev Friday said the energy-rich Central Asian nation would prioritise diversification of the economy away from resource extraction toward industrial-innovation projects.
In his annual address to the joint session of parliament, Nazarbayev said the government was giving “highest importance” to the socio-economic modernisation of the people.
“This is the main direction of development of Kazakhstan for the nearest decades,” Nazarbayev said.
The president listed 10 key areas of his priority which included employment, affordable housing, regional development, increasing quality of state services, improving human resources, modernising judicial and law-enforcement systems, qualitative growth of human capital and agricultural development.
The president also spoke about the launch of a number of ambitious projects of the industrialisation and development of the infrastructure.
“Today, I want to announce the start of new for Kazakhstan large-scale projects in the field of our primary sector and infrastructure with high added value,” said the president of the the largest oil producer in the former Soviet Union after Russia.
To help diversify the economy, he said, the government was planning to withdraw some of the billions of dollars Kazakhstan keeps with western banks to fund new projects.
“We will have to borrow credits from the national fund to develop our industrial-innovation projects. It’s better than just keeping money in Western banks. Let’s invest it in the national economy,” Nazarbayev said. He didn’t identify the lenders.
He also confirmed that Kazakhstan was likely to conclude talks to join the World Trade Organization (WTO) this year.
“Talks on Kazakhstan’s WTO accession are expected to be concluded in 2012,” Nazarbayev.
In June 2009, prime ministers of Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus decided to join the WTO as a single customs territory, but the idea was later dropped because of their differing degrees of readiness for membership.
Astana subsequently announced plans to enter the WTO by the end of 2010, but later had to scrap its plans.
Nazarbayev said in November 2011 Moscow and Astana had signed an agreement under which Russia would support Kazakhstan’s application to enter the WTO after it joined the organization itself.
Russia is expected to formally join the world trade club in the first half of 2012.
Nazarbayev also noted that Kazakhstan, “as a respected participant of the world politics”, would continue active participation in defining the ways of strengthening peace and security as well as in the process of the Eurasian integration.