By the Decree of the President of Kazakhstan, dated 19 May 2015, a new financial centre, called the Astana International Financial Centre ("AIFC"), was created in Kazakhstan's capital, Astana, with an ambitious goal to become one of the top 10 financial centers in Asia, and one of the top 30 in the world by 2020.
The legal framework of the AIFC was drafted to complement the existing regulations of the Dubai International Financial Centre, which are based on the common law of England and Wales.
The AIFC began operating from 1 January 2016. To effectively utilise the premises being constructed for the EXPO-2017 Exhibition, the AIFC will be located within the territory of the EXPO, however from 1 January 2018.
In December 2015, a special law - the Constitutional Law "On AIFC" (the "AIFC Law") - was adopted, which defined the AIFC as a territory within the city of Astana, with limited borders and a special legal regime.
Benefits for companies setting-up in the AIFC
The AIFC Law provides for a number of benefits which will be available for the AIFC's participants, their shareholders and employees. Such benefits include the following:
- a fifty year exemption (i.e. until 1 January 2066) from corporate tax on income received within the territory of the AIFC;
- a fifty year exemption (i.e. until 1 January 2066) from individual tax on income received as dividends and on the income of the staff of the AIFC's participants;
- a fifty year exemption (i.e. until 1 January 2066) from the tax on capital gains received as a result of the sale of securities traded on the stock exchange operated within the AIFC;
- an exemption from obtaining work permits for foreign employees of the AIFC's participants;
- a thirty day visa-free regime for nationals of the 34 country members of the OECD (including Canada, France, Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands, the UK, Italy and the US) as well as for nationals of the UAE, Malaysia, Singapore and Monaco;
- a special five year visa regime for foreign employees of the AIFC, AIFC's participants, as well as for their family members;
- a one-stop shop service for labour visas for foreign employees of the AIFC, AIFC's participants, as well as for their family members;
- the AIFC will have its own court, which will operate on the basis of the laws of England and Wales, as well as its own arbitration centre;
- English will be used as the working language of the AIFC; and
- AIFC participants may enter into transactions in the English, Kazakh and/or Russian languages.
The initiative aims to transform Astana into an international financial hub that will provide a wide range of financial services on the international level.
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