Interview to President Italian Kazakh Chamber of Commerce, Paolo Ghirelli.
by Ivan De Stefano
Dear Mr President, when has the Italian – Kazakh Chamber of Commerce been founded ? And when did you become its Chairman?
This organization was founded in Milan in 1996 as “Association Italy – Kazakhstan”, following to the invitations made to Italian Eni oil company by the Kazakh ambassador in Italy and by the President of Republic of Kazakhstan himself, Mr Nursultan Nazarbayev.
The Associate Founders were and still are the most important Italian companies operating in Hydrocarbons industry, some associations and institutional agencies and some service companies operating for export promotion. I would like to remember that who significantly contributed to the establishment of the Association was Mr Guglielmo Moscato, at that time the Agip Chairman (Eni). Mr Moscato, then, asked me to become President: I really couldn’t decline such a proposal! Eight years later, the Ministry of Economic development ratified the Association on the rank of the Chambers of commerce, as the only officially recognized entrepreneurial association for Kazakhstan within Unioncamere State agency, and the reliable platform for cultural and economic exchanges from Kazakhstan to Italy and from Italy to Kazakhstan.
Which opportunities are there, today, for Italian investments in Kazakhstan? And which sectors are mostly involved in this process?
The industrial growth of Kazakhstan is focused on seven industrial clusters: Oil & Gas, Agribusiness, Logistics e Transports, Construction materials, Mechanics and metallurgy, Tourism and Consumer goods manufacturing. Kazakhstan’s subsoil allows to be among the first ten countries for Oil reserves (more than 40 billion of barrels) and to produce up to 1,5 million of barrels per day. The oil revenues – still the most substantial incoming of public wealth – are being integrated for construction of new road and railway infrastructures, pulling on the lucky strategic position of this country along the Silk Road. Moreover, thanks to the extension of the territory (nine times the Italian one) that is very fertile, the Government wants to import less from abroad and produce more and more products in the country, then to be able to export them inside an EAEU free area (Eurasian Economic Union), having more than 200 million potential consumers. The same we can mention about Mechanic and Metallurgical industry: Kazakhstan strongly believes in new technologies and it is growing as a giant economy in the last twenty years also in this sector. Expo Astana 2017 will show to us how it will promote this important issue for the future of energy.
How Italy is perceived by Kazakhstan for short and long term investments ?
First of all, we all need to consider that Kazakh market has not the Chinese or Indian size. That means that the Italian small–medium enterprises (SMEs) can transform their “limits” into strength points in such a context. Italy is the second European manufacturer after Germany, but it can take advantage by the double of SMEs which are interested in foreign investments. It is why Italy compares among the first world producers of Oil & Gas components, but also as export leader in fashion and furniture (what we usually mention for “Made in Italy” sector).
Can you describe, please, the role of your association and tell us something about the last entrepreneurial actions it organized with the Kazakh interlocutors?
First of all, we have to thank the colleagues we are working with in The Italian Kazakh Chamber of Commerce, whose offices are in Marcallo (Milan) at Carlo Gavazzi Impianti headquarters, and we are talking about : the Secretary-General Ms Goulsym Joumagoulova, a Kazakh professional living in Italy for long time and specialized in external relations. The second important collaborator is Ms Naghira Zhumagulova, based in Almaty: she is responsible in Kazakhstan for the institutional relations and the assistance to the companies.
The Association, therefore, offers to the associated members different services: assistance, training, information, promotion and events organization, by helping the companies on legal, tax, logistic, customs and law issues for supply contracts and all investments and contributing to JV establishment. We have taken part to EU projects, we take care of important institutional relations by both sides and we prepare marketing analysis about many sectors. Our website italkazak.it inform on the country and the Central Asia region. CCIK has organized incoming business trips in Italy for Kazakh interlocutors: we can mention the one with Nadloc delegation led by the President Kairat Bekturgenev and the Kazakh association of Mechanic manufacturers, and by the Chairman Meyram Pshembayev (who is also a deputy at Majilis, the national parliament). Nadloc is the National agency for the development of Local content in Kazakhstan, owned by the Ministry of Industry. It is why we visited together some very important Italian companies operating in food industry, textile and furniture for future JV with Kazakh enterprises. During these meetings, we were invited at the Italian-Kazakh Intergovernmental Forum with the Prime minister Matteo Renzi and the Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev: in front of them, many Memorandums of Understanding – prepared and promoted by CCIK – have been signed between Nadloc and the Experimental Station for the Food Preserving Industry of Parma (SSICA), “the king of textile” Limonta, the furniture manufacturer Viganò and the Union of Parma Industrials.
What particular projects the Chamber of commerce is developing for Astana 2017?
We are working together with CibusèItalia, Federalimentare and Fiere di Parma to create a pavilion with an Italian restaurant, committed to promoted Italian food, design, textile and machineries.
Finally, thanks for your time, Mr Ghirelli. But let me ask you a last question: what do you think of Italy regarding the future world economic exchanges during this period of European crisis?
I may say that, through this crisis, we learned that outside Europe there are incredible markets where Italian companies can go very fast. In fact, because of their high technological degree, our companies are able to aggress markets through the “Made With” strategy, consisting in growing together with local partners. Kazakhstan is indeed one of the most attractive markets in the world thanks to Local content policy: around 200 Kazakh companies have Italian shares. I think it’s not a trifling number if we consider a 17 million people country.