- The Washington Times - Monday, August 27, 2001

Kazakh oil fund
For some time now, Kazakhstan's economy has been benefiting from high oil prices, but as price levels have begun to slip, the government in Almaty is glad it decided late last year to put aside some of the money that poured into its treasury from oil exports.
Kazakhstan's top economic official said his country created a national fund to help balance the state budget, which for the first half of the year accumulated $1.1 billion. Oil is one of the main exports for the former Soviet republic.
Zhaksybek Kulekeev, minister of economy and trade of Kazakhstan, said the fund was a pre-emptive measure.
"We realize that the [oil export] situation won't always be as good, so we created a mechanism to protect the budget from the fluctuations of the world economy through financing our deficit," he told our correspondent Nicholas Kralev on a recent visit to Washington.
Mr. Kulekeev was here this month to sign a steel production anti-dumping agreement with the Department of Commerce, which is negotiating similar arrangements with the world's 12 major steel producers.
The minister also used his visit to discuss his country's prospects for joining the World Trade Organization, following the fourth meeting of the WTO's working group for Kazakhstan in Geneva in June.
Mr. Kulekeev also promoted Kazakhstan's economic achievements since he got the job two years ago.
"Our average monthly salary of $100 is the highest in the former Soviet republics, and more than 70 percent of our gross domestic product comes from the private sector," he said, referring to the fast pace of privatization.

Nigerian democracy
The U.S. ambassador to Nigeria believes the best way to promote democracy in the west African nation is to strengthen the economy.
Ambassador Howard Jeter underscored Washington's commitment to Nigeria by releasing an $18.5 million grant last week as the first installment in a larger aid package.
"This grant agreement launches a new partnership between the two countries that is focused on sustaining Nigeria's transition to democracy," Mr. Jeter told reporters after the signing ceremony Friday.
The money is part of a commitment the United States announced in June to provide $93 million toward agriculture and $34 million toward education and employment.
Civilian rule returned to Nigeria in 1999, after 15 years of military government. However, many Nigerians are becoming impatient with the slow pace of economic and social reform under President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Nigeria is Africa's most populous country and the world's sixth largest exporter of crude oil.

McMillion to Rwanda
President Bush has selected a career diplomat with experience in Asia and Africa to serve as ambassador to Rwanda.
Margaret K. McMillion has been director of the Africa analysis office of the State Department's Bureau of Research and Intelligence since 1999.
She also has served as deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Laos and in other diplomatic positions in the embassies in Thailand, South Africa and in Rwanda.

Diplomatic traffic
Foreign visitors in Washington this week include:
Today
Venezuelan Foreign Minister Luis Alfonso Davila, who addresses the Permanent Council of the Organization of American States.
Rhee In Je, a leading member of the Korean National Assembly, who addresses a luncheon on Korean unification.
Other participants in the two-day conference sponsored by the Atlantic Council of the United States and the Korean Economic Institute include: Borje Ljunggren of the Swedish Foreign Ministry; Wolfgang Roehr of the German Foreign Ministry; Georgi Toloraya of the Russian Foreign Ministry; Kim Myong Chol of Japan's Center for Korean-American Peace; Jang C. Jin of the Chinese University of Hong Kong; and Kwan-Hee Hong of the Korea Institute of National Unification.


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