Meeting with the Minister of Trade and Integration of the Republic of Kazakhstan B. Sultanov

On October 15, 2021, the President of the BeNeLux Chamber of Commerce D. Van den Weich met with the Minister of Trade and Integration of the Republic of Kazakhstan B. Sultanov, during which the main areas of bilateral cooperation were discussed.

D. Van den Weich presented the main activities of the Chamber of Commerce and informed that the Board of Directors consists of representatives of such companies as Shell, Arendt & Medernach, Eurasian Resources Group, Arcelor Mittal and FoodVentures.

In addition, the President of the Chamber drew attention to the total trade turnover of the BeNeLux countries with Kazakhstan, which from 2017 to 2019. amounted to about 15,2 billion euros. Foreign direct investment from the BeNeLux countries since 2005 has amounted to more than 68,9 billion euros.

Reference: Kkeyе directionsя activities Chambers – industries in which the BeNeLux countries are leaders, and which will thereby further contribute to the diversification of the economy of Kazakhstan through technology transfer, in sectors such as agriculture, infrastructure and logistics, renewable energy, environment, aerospace, telecommunications services, engineering, fintech products and services.

In turn, Minister B. Sultanov noted that within the framework of the commodity distribution infrastructure, the Ministry is working to create two agro-logistics and seven wholesale distribution centers. These multifunctional centers will form a system of modern fruit and vegetable wholesale markets and thus optimize delivery logistics.

In this regard, B. Sultanov expressed his interest in establishing partnerships with the Belgian company BelOrta, including the possible application of their best practices.

Having a personal acquaintance with the first head of BelOrta, Philipp Apeltans, D. Van den Weich informed that this group of companies (BelOrta Food & Vegetables, BelOrta Chef, BelOrta Bio, Flandria) uniting more than 1450 manufacturers has an auction room in Sint-Katelijne- Waver in Belgium and annually sells about half a million tons of organic vegetables, fruits and herbs.

Considering that more than 75 countries from all over the world trade on the BelOrta site all year round, there is the possibility of selling Kazakh agricultural products.

Following the discussion of this issue, the President of the Chamber expressed his readiness to assist in organizing the visit of Minister B. Sultanov to the Kingdom of Belgium to get acquainted with the mechanisms of BelOrta's activities in November of this year.

Also, D. Van den Deich drew attention to the appeal of some members of the Chamber about the difficulties at crossing the border with Russia, in particular, that not all border points in the Russian Federation are equipped with automatic scanners capable of examining the contents of the cargo without a physical examination by customs officers, or it is available, but not always used for unknown reasons. Without (use of) automatic scanners, cargo must be unloaded for inspection. This significantly increases the time for customs clearance and any delays mean a loss of money.

The minister agrees that with the presence of automatic scanners, such inspections are unnecessary and should be avoided, he asked the Chamber to provide specific facts and transfer them to the ministry with all the summary data.

In addition, from 2022, changes in tax legislation come into force in Kazakhstan, among which an obligation is introduced for foreign companies to register and pay VAT in the territory of the Republic of Kazakhstan when conducting electronic trade in goods, providing services in electronic form to individuals.

These issues are of interest to a wide range of businesses from the BeNeLux countries in Kazakhstan, which is ready to enter the Kazakhstan market, and domestic businesses that are trying to increase the export potential of Kazakhstan, but are faced with barriers.

Minister Sultanov noted that the decision to introduce the VAT has been made, but his Ministry will carefully monitor its implementation and, if necessary, will take action.

Given that the BeNeLux countries are leaders in the production of seeds and their contribution to the development of agriculture in the Republic of Kazakhstan, the President of the Chamber proposed to consider the issue of temporarily reducing VAT on imported seeds. This would contribute to the development of agriculture, as well as reduce the cost of final agricultural products.

The Minister of Trade and Integration said that these issues are under the control of the Ministry and are already being discussed with partners within the EAEU.

Following the meeting, the parties agreed on the need to hold these meetings on an ongoing basis.