Whose Interest Is Hidden in Nur Zholy?

The customs points at the Kazakhstan-Chinese border often find themselves in the thick of scandals. At the same time, they remain a cash cow for those who unofficially control them. Even though the «monitors» replace each other from time to time.

On September 28, 2018, citing the State Revenue Committee and the Almaty Governor’s Office, the Kazakhstan media-resources informed the public about the opening of a new Kazakhstan-Chinese border checkpoint called Nur Zholy.

Here is the State Revenue Committee press-release (text in bold by kz.expert).

«On September 27, at the border of Kazakhstan and China, a new checkpoint Nur Zholy was opened. Vice Minister of Finance of the Republic of Kazakhstan Kanat Bayedilov, Head of the State Revenue Committee of the Ministry of Finance of the Republic of Kazakhstan Ardak Tengebayev, Regional Governor Amandyk Batalov, and the representatives of the other state and private agencies participated in the opening ceremony. 

As the experts have noted, Kazakhstan has a unique possibility to develop the transit potential due to its beneficial geographic position between the East and the West. This can be achieved provided that there are high-quality roads and affiliated services as well as the improvement of the border-crossing time.

In the light of this, the customs agencies must accomplish the two tasks: 

first — to accelerate the speed of transporting the goods across the border; 

second — to ensure the security of the international trade chain.

It is mandatory to have the modern infrastructure at the customs clearance to achieve the tasks completion.

For the first time in the country’s history, the building of a border checkpoint has been funded by a private investor within the framework of a state-private partnership and this checkpoint is now the biggest one in Central Asia. What is important, the cutting-edge technologies and innovative decisions were used when building it. At the design stage, the Kazakhstan experts borrowed the best checkpoint infrastructure building practices from the EEU, Turkey, Poland, Finland, Mexico, and the US. Apart from that, the design takes into account the EEU requirements, the global experience and the infrastructure decisions, so, the border-crossing time at this checkpoint will take about 30 minutes».

«The structure of the complex’ general planning provides for the crossing both ways of 2.5 thousand vehicles and 15 thousand physical bodies per working day including 2200 cargo transport vehicles, 300 passenger transport vehicles (busses and motor cars).

The checkpoint territory is divided into two independent zones — the cargo zone (for cargo transport vehicles) and the passenger zone (for motor cars and busses).

It also has corridors for disabled persons (entrance/exit), a baby-care room, a waiting area of more than 250 square meters, a food court, a duty free shop, medical stations, CIP and VIP lounges.

For the first time in Kazakhstan’s history, the experts adopt the automatic logistics control system that is integrated with the ASTANA-1 customs agencies information system. The introduction of this automatic technological decision helps to maximally reduce the «human factor» and minimize the corruption risks.

With the launch of Nur Zholy, the pass-through capacity of this customs point will increase by 30 times, the passenger flow will increase by 18 times. The launch of Nur Zholy will lead to the revival of Great Silk Way and will increase the transit potential of the Republic of Kazakhstan».

There is no doubt that the appearance of the new modern checkpoint at the Kazakhstan-Chinese border is a huge success for the country. All the more so, since, according to the official press-releases, it significantly outshines the other checkpoints (for instance, Dostyk — also located in the Almaty region) in terms of the technical, information-providing, logistics, and service parameters.

The only unclear moment in all of this is who the end investor of this state-private partnership project that has become, in the words of the State Revenue Committee, «the biggest one in Central Asia» is.

As it follows from the Almaty Regional Governor’s Office press-release, almost 70 bln tenge had been invested in Nur Zholy, and Eurotransit Terminal LLP was the investor. A search of the open sources has resulted in getting little information about the company.

For example, the corporate website states (text in bold by kz.expert).

«Eurotransit is a Kazakhstan logistic provider that combines the entire spectrum of the cargo transportation, customs clearance, warehousing, and cargo processing services. The company was founded in 2012, has an extensive branch network in Kazakhstan and beyond.

As part of the «NURLY ZHOL — WAY INTO THE FUTURE» and the «ONE BELT AND ONE ROAD» project development, the Eurotransit corporate group has united the transport infrastructures of China and Europe.

At the Kazakhstan-Chinese border, Eurotransit has built 6 transport-logistics centers designed to fully solve the logistics infrastructure problem: these are two railway transport-logistics passages Altynkol and Dostyk as well as 4 automobile passages Maykapchagay, Bakhty, Khorgos, and Kalzhat.

Unfortunately, the company’s site is practically «empty». There is almost no information of any kind. For instance, at the time of the writing, there was no announcement on the Nur Zholy opening even though five days had passed since its launch. There are no corporate press-releases, and the last news on the website dates back to October 11, 2017. It is the news on the opening of the Kalzhat customs-logistics center. By the way, the funding of this 10 bln tenge project was also completed within the framework of a state-private partnership.

We believe such a secrecy on the part of Eurotransit LLP is not a coincidence but a deliberately chosen tactics. The thing is that, based on the insider information, the end beneficiary of this judicial body is entrepreneur Kayrat Sharipbayev.

Apart from being the Chairman of KazTransGas JSC, Kayrat Sharipbayev is married to Dariga Nazarbayeva, President Nazarbayev’s eldest daughter.

In our opinion, this fact can explain the reasons why Eurotransit LLP has managed to, first, develop its business so successfully and, second, to participate in several state-private partnerships (again, very successfully) and, finally, to find the investments necessary for propelling such a big business.


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