Temir Sariev, Minister of Economy and Anti-Monopoly Policy, discusses his country’s goals.
European Times: What are your ministry’s responsibilities?
Temir Sariev: This ministry focuses on maintaining the country’s macroeconomic stability, but we are involved in many other areas. For example, we contribute to formulating the government’s fiscal and tariff policies, we help determine public-sector investments, we control trade policies and related issues, we determine policies about the use of natural resources, and we are responsible for technical regulations and standardisation, among many other matters. We also have a whole department devoted to issues related to competition and anti-monopoly efforts, we have a one-stop shop for imports and exports, and we oversee the government’s privatisation programme.
European Times: What are some of your current projects?
Temir Sariev: One of our most important projects is to develop the mining sector, which has attracted strong interest from international investors. Getting mining products to market requires efficient infrastructure, so we are also concentrating on infrastructure development, both within Kyrgyzstan and between our country and others in the region. Kyrgyzstan has great potential to become a regional trade hub.
European Times: What other economic sectors are you focussing on at the moment?
Temir Sariev: Developing the country’s hydropower resources is another top priority. We are only achieving around 10% of our potential renewable-energy production. Kyrgyzstan is also participating in the regional Casa-1000 energy project, and we are building new transmission lines to Kazakhstan and China and exploring a project to build a regional gas pipeline.
European Times: Why should European companies and investors get involved in Kyrgyzstan?
Temir Sariev: Kyrgyzstan is the most open country in Central Asia. We know that openness and transparency are the keys to our long-term success. Kyrgyzstan has a history of innovation: we were the first Central Asian country to declare independence, introduce a national currency, privatise state-owned enterprises, create a parliament, and enter the World Trade Organisation. Today, Kyrgyzstan has a visa-free regime, no censorship, a Wi-Fi network that covers 85% of the country, stringent anti-corruption policies, and a very strong private sector. This year the country attracted €638.7 million (US$823 million) in donor funding and investments. We welcome more investors from Europe, especially since EU investors will bring in not only new technologies and methods but also high standards. I want European investors to know that Kyrgyzstan has tremendous investment potential and is committed to democracy, openness and stability.