ESCAP highlights policy priorities for sustainable and inclusive development in Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan’s robust economic recovery in 2010 needs to be buttressed by continuing enhancement to connectivity between markets and peoples as well as investment in sustainable and inclusive development, the top United Nations official for Asia and the Pacific said during an official visit to the landlocked Central Asian nation this week.

United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), Dr. Noeleen Heyzer was in Kazakhstan to participate in the IV Astana Economic Forum (AEF) from 3 to 4 May, to sign the Host country agreement on 4 May to set up the new ESCAP Subregional Office for North and Central Asia in Almaty and to launch ESCAP’s flagship publication, the Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific 2011 on 5 May 2011.

Dr. Heyzer moderated the opening AEF session which was attended by the President of Kazakhstan H.E. Mr. Nursultan Nazarbayev, Nobel Laureates in Economics, heads of UN agencies and former Heads of State. At the end of the AEF, the ESCAP chief joined the Development Dialogue between Kazakhstan’s Cabinet Ministers and Nobel Prize winners on challenges and opportunities facing Kazakhstan and other countries in Central Asia.

In her statements to the AEF, Development Dialogue and a breakfast meeting hosted by H.E. Mr. Kairat N. Kelimbetov, Minister of Economic Development and Trade, Kazakhstan and attended by Nobel Prize winners and former Heads of State, Dr. Heyzer highlighted challenges to sustainable and inclusive development before Central Asia.

At the closing of the Development Dialogue, Dr. Heyzer was conferred with a surprise Honorary Professorship by the Eurasian Economic Club of Scientists Association consisting of several economic Nobel Prize winners.

Launching the Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific 2011 with the Prime Minister of Kazakhstan H.E. Mr. Karim Massimov, Dr. Heyzer noted Kazakhstan’s strong 7.0 per cent growth last year faces a challenge from rising inflation driven by high food prices. The Survey reports gains by Kazakhstan in improving connectivity through trade and transport links, including a customs union with Russia and Belarus, and a planned high-speed rail link between Astana and Almaty.

Across Asia and the Pacific, economies recovered strongly in 2010 from the depths of the “Great Recession” of 2008/09, resulting in the region emerging as the growth pole of the global economy. ESCAP projections indicate that Asia-Pacific developing economies are consolidating their recovery in 2011 with a projected growth rate of 7.3% although there are downside risks arising from inflationary pressures especially rising food and fuel prices, a deluge of volatile short-term capital flows, continuing uncertainties about the recovery of the advanced economies, the effects of the recent Japanese earthquake, among others. More importantly, the recovery is broad based with all the sub-regions of the Asia-Pacific participating, led by China growing at 9.5% and India at 8.7%.