Eshana De Silva, the Chairman of the Esna Group of Companies and Shermans Logistics has been officially appointed as the Honorary Consul to Kazakhstan.
De Silva is also a Director of Pan Asia Bank, Mc Marine and functions as a board member of the Board of Investment (BOI) and the Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA).
Commenting on his appointment, De Silva said, “I am honoured by this appointment and will soon be opening a consulate in Colombo. I will work towards fostering enhanced bilateral relationships between the two countries and hope to make my term as Honorary Consul memorable.”
The Republic of Kazakhstan is transcontinental country in Central Asia and Eastern Europe and is the ninth largest country in the world. It is neighboured from the North by Russia, China, Kyrgystan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. It also borders on a significant part of the Caspian Sea. The Capital is its largest city — Astana. Kazakhstan, geographically the largest of the former Soviet Republics, excluding Russia has a population of 15,522,373 (July 2011 est.) with a literacy rate of 99.5%. GDP-Per Capita (PPP) $12,700 (2010 est.)
During his visit to St. Petersburg, Russia in June this year, President Mahinda Rajapaksa met the President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev during which investment opportunities in Sri Lanka were discussed, according to reports on the website of the Sri Lankan Ministry of External Affairs.
In 2002 Kazakhstan became the first country in the former Soviet Union to receive an investment-grade credit rating. In the year 2000 the country paid all its debt to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), seven years ahead of schedule. Rich in resources Kazakhstan has a vibrant economy it possesses enormous fossil fuel reserves, it holds 6.5 billion tonnes of proven recoverable oil reserves, seven Trillion cubic metres of gas and plentiful supplies of other minerals and metals, such as uranium, copper, and zinc. It also has a large agricultural sector featuring livestock and grain.
Outbound tourists from Kazakhstan accounted to 261,070 in the year 2008 with only 20,977 of them visiting CIS countries showing a huge potential for Sri Lanka to attract these tourists. It is also a Major Tea Importer. It is estimated that over 10,000 tourists visit India annually from Kazakhstan and their national carrier Air Astana flies thrice a week to Delhi from Almaty and the flight duration is only three hours 50 minutes. Air Astana has a total of 24 aircrafts at present in their fleet.
As major Industries Kazakstan has oil, coal, iron ore, manganese, chromite, lead, zinc, copper, titanium, bauxite, gold, silver, phosphates, sulfur, uranium, iron and steel; tractors and other agricultural machinery, electric motors, and construction materials.
Market value of publicly traded shares is $57.66 billion (31 December 2009). Direct foreign Investment at home is $79.13 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
Indian- Kazakhstani relations have increased in importance. India invited the Kazakh President for the Republic Day Celebrations in New Delhi, in January 2009 and The Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev made an official visit. As of 2003, Indian-Kazakhstani trade stands at USD 78.91 million. This year Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visited Kazakhstan and the two countries signed deals on Uranium supplies and Indian involvement in developing a Caspian Sea oilfield. Kazakhstan is one of the top three producers of Uranium, producing 17,800 tonnes last year. The Ambassador of the Republic of Kazakhstan to India is Doulat Kuanyshev.