Kyrgyzstan: Doing business & staying in touch

Doing business in Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyzstan is actively seeking overseas partners to modernise its industry and introduce new technology. To this end, it has enacted a number of laws to encourage and protect foreign investors; the law on property extends to all foreign investors the rights granted to Kyrgyz citizens with respect to ownership; foreigners are allowed to purchase businesses and buildings to carry out their activities, but the government reserves the exclusive right to own land, natural resources, water, agriculture and livestock. There are significant tax holidays for foreign investors.

In order to invest in Kyrgyzstan, foreigners must be registered with the Ministry of Economy and Finance. Applications to set up in Kyrgyzstan should be sent in the first instance to the State Technical Committee on Foreign Investments and Economic Assistance (Goskominvest). The government is particularly interested in encouraging investment in mining, industry (including electronics, light agricultural machinery and pharmaceuticals), petroleum, hydroelectricity and agriculture.

Office hours

Mon-Fri 0900-1800, Sat 0900-1300 (Mar-Oct).

Government office hours: Mon-Fri 0900-1700, Sat 0900-1300 (Nov-Feb).

Economy

Kyrgyzstan is one of poorest countries of the former Soviet Union. Although its economy is largely based in agriculture, the country does have a number of natural resources. After gaining independence, Kyrgyzstan undertook a number of regulatory reforms and was the first country from the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) to be accepted into the World Trade Organisation. This was after a predictable drop in production following independence.
Kyrgyzstan became part of the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative in 2006. Although the country's economy grew by 6% in 2007-08 there was a substantial drop in 2009 due to the financial crisis, and another in 2010 because of political turmoil. However, the economy had improved considerably by early 2011 thanks to improved political security and better agricultural performance. Inflation was around 19% at the end of 2010 but this was predicted to improve. Unemployment remains around 18%.

GDP

US$4.6 billion (CIA 2010 estimate).

Main exports

Cotton, wool, tobacco, gold and uranium.

Main imports

Oil and gas, machinery and equipment, chemicals and food.

Main trading partners

Keeping in Touch in Kyrgyzstan

Telephone

International calls should be made from a telephone office which will usually be found attached to a post office; they can also be made from some hotels by asking at reception, although these can be expensive. All international calls from Kyrgyzstan have to go through the operator. IP international calls can be made from some internet cafes, which are a much cheaper option than using Kyrgyz Telecom. Local calls (within the city) are free of charge if made from private telephones; hotels sometimes levy a small charge. Direct-dial calls within the CIS are obtained by dialling 8 and waiting for another dial tone and then dialling the city code followed by the number.

Mobile phone

Roaming agreements exist with most international mobile phone companies. Buying a local SIM card for your phone is easy, although nationwide coverage is patchy.

Internet

There are internet cafes available in Bishkek and major cities, with limited access elsewhere. They are inexpensive but connections outside Bishkek are sometimes very slow.

Post

The postal service to and from Western Europe and the USA is reasonably reliable but can take anything between two weeks and two months. Stamped envelopes can be bought from post offices. Mail to recipients within Kyrgyzstan should be addressed in the following order: country, postcode, city, street, house number and, lastly, the person's name. Visitors can also use post offices located within some major hotels. Express mail may also be sent using the reliable but pricier services of DHL or Federal Express.

Post office hours

Mon-Fri 0900-1800.

Media

There is a reasonable degree of freedom of the press. Slovo Kyrgyzstana is a national government-owned Russian-language paper published three times a week, while the Kyrgyz-language Respublika and Russian language Vecherniy Bishkek are both privately owned dailies. The main English-language newspaper in the country is the twice-weekly Bishkek-based Times of Central Asia (www.times.kg). Weekly English-language newspapers include the Bishkek Observer, Kyrgyzstan Chronicle and Zaman Kyrgyzstan.

The state-run Kyrgyz National TV and Radio Broadcasting Corporation has two networks in Kyrgyz and Russian. There are also a few private channels like Piramida, NTS and Osh TV.

British newspapers like The Times can sometimes be found at newsstands and upmarket hotels in Bishkek but they tend to be at least two days old.

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