Judith Farnworth, UK Ambassador to Kyrgyzstan, discusses the Embassy’s commitment to supporting Kyrgyzstan’s development.
European Times: What is the focus of the UK Embassy’s mission in Kyrgyzstan?
Judith Farnworth: The UK decided to open the embassy here last year as part of a broader review of our global presence. The UK’s key foreign policy priorities are: values, security, prosperity and consular responsibility. All of them resonate in Kyrgyzstan to a greater or lesser extent. We are keen to support efforts to embed the values of democracy, human rights and the rule of law here; and believe that stability in the Kyrgyz Republic will enhance the security of the wider region. We are funding several projects in these areas. We don’t have a Commercial Section in this Embassy but we are exploring opportunities for promoting business ties with Kyrgyzstan. Our consular team in Almaty supports the local British community.
European Times: What kind of relationship do you have with the Kyrgyz government?
Judith Farnworth: We have been made very welcome. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is our key partner, but we also work closely with the Ministry of Defence on security issues, and the First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy on commercial opportunities, for example, and we’ve been discussing judicial reform with the Justice Ministry. We are open to working with all the ministries, in fact.
European Times: How would you describe the business climate?
Judith Farnworth: There are opportunities in mining, infrastructure, tourism and agriculture, to name just a few. We welcome efforts to date to liberalise the market and are encouraged that the new Government Program is focussed on completing the process. We are interested in plans for a one-stop shop for business. The most obvious message for the Kyrgyz authorities is that the best advert for future investors into any country is the success of existing business. A transparent business environment, level playing field, clear regulatory framework, simplified procedures, predictability of tax arrangements, enforceability of contracts and intolerance of corruption are all essential.
European Times: Do you plan any trade missions?
Judith Farnworth: We have commissioned a British consultant to produce a report on potential business opportunities and hope to follow up with a trade mission here in 2013. We are also happy to share UK experience with Kyrgyz policy-makers to save them having to reinvent the wheel.
European Times: What is your personal message to potential investors?
Judith Farnworth: Kyrgyzstan has a great deal to offer as a tourism destination plus some areas of interesting business potential. Kyrgyzstan is a beautiful place. I would encourage anyone to visit. They will be pleasantly surprised!