Ozgur KUTAY, Country Head for Turkey and Central Asia at UK Export Finance:
THE UNITED KINGDOM MAY PROVIDE £4 BILLION TO FINANCE KAZAKHSTAN-BASED PROJECTS THAT SHOULD INCLUDE UK CONTENT
UK Export Finance (UKEF) is ready to provide Kazakhstani companies up to 4 billion pounds sterling to finance projects in the mining, agricultural, metallurgical and renewable energy sources sectors on condition that the UK content in such projects is at least 20%. UK Export Finance Country Head for Turkey and Central Asia Ozgur KUTAY gave Interfax-Kazakhstan an interview in the run-up to his visit to Astana. In this interview he spoke about UKEF’s cooperation with Kazakh companies.
- Mr Kutay, how can UKEF support companies in Kazakhstan?
- As the world’s longest-serving export credit agency, UKEF can offer effective financial support to Kazakhstani buyers who want to purchase goods and services of UK origin. Drawing on over a century of experience in supporting global trade with the UK, we can help state-owned companies, private firms, national governments and project-finance schemes all benefit from high-quality UK capital goods and services.
As UKEF’s dedicated Country Head for Turkey and Central Asia, I work with colleagues in London as well as UK Trade Commissioners and Ambassadors around the world to support businesses in this region.
We’ve also recently appointed a Country Manager based in Tashkent who can support local and international companies.
The full range of UKEF’s facilities – including loan guarantees and direct lending – are available to Kazakhstani companies which want to purchase UK goods and services. This can support contracts worth less than £1 million through to multi-billion pound projects.
- How much UKEF funding is available for projects in Kazakhstan? How long is this funding for? What is the maximum amount that can be allocated per project?
- We have a market risk appetite of up to £4 billion available for helping local companies trade with the UK and make their projects happen. Our support doesn’t have to be tied to Kazakhstan – it can go towards any viable projects being proposed by Kazakhstani companies, including projects happening in other countries.
Our support can help Kazakhstani buyers to secure competitive borrowing rates, extended repayment periods and access to UK-based expertise.
As the UK’s export credit agency with a mandate to promote British exports, there are of course conditions to our support – any transactions which we pursue need to include a minimum of 20% UK content in the supply chain, and they need to meet our criteria on environmental and social standards. At the same time, UKEF’s financing can cover up to 50% local content which helps to support local jobs and economic impact.
- What specific projects in Kazakhstan does UKEF plan to fund?
- As I just mentioned, we are placing an emphasis on environmental and social standards. In line with that, we are particularly keen to support Central Asian economies like Kazakhstan in their transition towards renewable energy and net zero. Across the region, we’re also interested in transportation infrastructure, clean water, industrial construction and healthcare – projects that deliver real social and economic benefit for Kazakhstanis.
Having already financed a 1.35 GW solar farm and over 700km of railway in Turkey, UKEF is particularly well-placed to support infrastructure, transportation and renewable energy projects in the region.
- Which industries and sectors in Kazakhstan, in your opinion, are most attractive to UK companies and which projects can be supported?
- Although that’s really a question for the companies themselves, I think it’s worth remembering that Central Asian economies have highly developed extractive industries and therefore present vast opportunities to the UK firms in engineering, mining and agriculture. However, we are seeing growth in areas like renewable energy or clean water which we are especially keen to support. It is very likely that UK exporters already active in these markets will see opportunities here, and UKEF is ready to support them.
- One of the conditions of your funding for projects in Kazakhstan is that at least 20% of the content must be UK content. Can you specify what is meant by this? Is it about technology, personnel or share of ownership?
- Put simply, ‘UK content’ is the portion of a project or a contract which comprises goods, services and intangibles purchased from the UK. This includes sub-contracts placed with UK companies and it includes goods which are produced in another country but then processed in the UK.
If you have a project which you think UKEF could support, I would advise you to contact us first. We can then explore how it is able to meet our content requirements.
- In 2018, UKEF already spoke about its intentions to allocate $2-3 billion for projects in Kazakhstan. Can you tell us about the results?
- Since we instated our £4 billion capacity for supporting Kazakhstan companies – which is actually almost $5 billion – we have started discussing viable projects with UK exporters and local buyers. It can take some time for these initial discussions to become finalised transactions, but we’re looking forward to announcing our first major Kazakhstan transactions in the coming years.
- Also, a few years ago UKEF signed agreements with the Kazakhstani holding company Baiterek, what signings are planned for this visit? With whom?
- I hope that this visit will see us explore a range of possible projects in water, transportation and renewable energy sectors which involve UK exporters. Agreements which we signed with Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Economy in 2021 have already given us a great starting point for ongoing discussions. This latest visit is a great opportunity for us to meet with potential partners like government agencies, local banks and Kazakhstani corporates.
- Thank you for your time!
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