Experts from Bahrain and the UK recently talked about the role, initiatives and prospects of the Astana International Financial Center (AIFC).
The AIFC is a financial hub for the countries of Central Asia, the Middle East, the republics of the Transcaucasus, the EAEU, the territory of Western China, Mongolia and the countries of Europe. The main areas of its activity are the development of the capital market, asset management, assets of wealthy individuals, new financial technologies, as well as Islamic finance.
Among the priority goals of the AIFC are the development of the human resource potential of local financial market specialists, the popularization of international professional certifications, and the creation of a personnel reserve of professionals at the international level for further work in the ecosystem of the center and beyond.
“This is a brilliant initiative of the Government of Kazakhstan. In fact, the establishment shows farsighted leadership, recognizing the excellent potential of the AIFC to become a regional hub for Islamic finance. And I have no doubt that in a few years this particular financial center will play a central, decisive role in the region. They have already shown praiseworthy, very successful initiatives and planned even more,” said Farhan Nur, head of professional development, secretary of the education board, member of the standards development department, and chief researcher of the accounting and audit code of the Organization for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI).
He also noted that AIFC is an educational partner of AAOIFI and an assessment center for the region. This means that all those interested in AAOIFI professional qualifications, such as, for example, CIPA and CSAA certification, will now be able to resolve issues through the AIFC, even while receiving discounts. Farhan Nur also expressed confidence that AAOIFI will continue to support the AIFC in all possible ways.
The main feature of the International Financial Center “Astana” is that it works on the principles of General English law, recognized throughout the world. That is, Kazakhstan as a state has its own constitutional laws, status, and the AIFC has its own rules and laws.
A member of the panel of arbitrators at the AIFC International Arbitration Center, a member of the AIFC Advisory Board on Islamic Finance, Sheikh Bilal Khan, a lawyer at the senior courts in England and Wales, noted the obvious advantages of such a system. In his opinion, the AIFC is a unique example, jurisdiction within jurisdiction, and not just geographically. 95% of financial transactions around the world – banking, insurance funds, investments, state laws – operate according to General English law. And as it is applied in all international transactions, this will attract many people and organizations from all over the world to the AIFC. The expert explained: people must have legal, official certainty, be sure that the laws in force here will be valid in other countries.
– The AIFC is based on the vision of President Nursultan Nazarbayev, the national plan “100 concrete steps”. And if you look at the management board of the AIFC, it includes, of course, government representatives, but also international experts, representatives of many organizations who see prospects for the next ten years. In the rank of the leading financial centers of the world – New York, London, Hong Kong, Singapore, Shanghai.
“Astana”, despite the fact that the capital is only 20 years old, and its financial center is completely new, is already at the 61st place. For comparison: on the 59th, Bahrain, and for more than 30 years it has had its own financial center. And this is proof that there are great successes and rapid growth, – said Sheikh Bilal Khan.
Experts note the right time to create such a center in Kazakhstan, as the country is now moving away from energy dependence, striving for diversification, with an emphasis on the development of a financial center. Financial services are probably the most flexible sector to pay attention to.
For example, the economy of the United Kingdom, the United States and several other countries is based precisely on the financial services sector. It is also noteworthy that organizations from these countries are going to buy through IPO (initial public offering) a part of the assets of such Kazakhstan companies as Samruk Kazyna, KazMunayGas, Kazaktelecom. These opportunities will attract foreign companies in Kazakhstan that also want a “piece of cake”. As Sheikh Bilal Khan noted, this is also one of the requirements for joining the OECD, which Kazakhstan seeks.
– Astana is geographically well located on a strategic territory, because there is not a single financial center between Shanghai and Frankfurt, and in the Caspian region, in the Eurasian Economic Union, in the CIS it also has no rivals. Even China and Russia – two economic, political, military super powers – want to conduct their financial services through Astana.
The capital of Kazakhstan is also a symbol of hope and peace, a venue for large-scale international events, so the AIFC offers here many strategic values. And I am confident of the success of this project,” Sheikh Bilal Khan added.
The AIFC also develops its own tailor-made programs for training specialists in the activities of the center, conducts professional events in order to increase financial and investment literacy.
For example, the Islamic Finance Week recently took place in the center, where well-known experts from different countries shared their experiences, explained the structure of the Islamic finance ecosystem, and expressed their views on the development of the Islamic economy in Kazakhstan. /// nCa, 26 October 2018