Memorandum submitted by British Aerospace
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, British
Aerospace has taken a keen interest in the territories of the
Transcaucasus and, more particularly, Central Asia. Government
Department restrictions have limited the company's activities
in this region, however we have concluded some airport development
business in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan and a small, but politically
significant, number of small arms are now being used in the presidential
protection unit in Kazakstan. In addition Uzbekistan purchased
three Regional Jets and negotiations are continuing for a further
tranche. We are also pursuing an opportunity to sell a small number
of Regional Jets (RJs) to Kazakstan.
British Aerospace is currently concentrating
on Kazakstan as a regional priority, with proposals that would
provide the country with integrated civil aviation transport infrastructure.
This is a particularly exciting project as Kazakstan presents
an almost unique opportunity to start such an enterprise from
scratch. The project would start with the redevelopment and regeneration
of airports and regional airlines, through to airspace management
and international route planning. It is hoped that this will lead
to the company being selected as the preferred supplier in the
civil aviation and, in the longer term, military and defence sectors.
Many western countries are developing relations
and business in the region. Most notable amongst these is the
USA, which is very forward in creating a presence. The First Lady,
for example, has paid an official visit and Kazak politicians
and businessmen are proud to relate the fact. The USA proclaims
a geo-political view of the region in which Kazakstan is the priority.
Recent military exchanges and manoevres, largely paid for by the
US, is testimony to this. Not only is the maintenance of a strategic
balance an imperative, but the huge potential of the regions mineral
resources is also a powerful magnet.
Turkey is also a significant operator in Central
Asia mainly in the construction sector, but they are also evident
in the military field. Hotels, airports and other major projects
have received financial backing with the EXIMBANK taking a leading
role. The Japanese have also offered favourable terms for funding,
particularly in Kazakstan, eg $80 million for the redevelopment
of Almaty airport.
The United Kingdom has, generally speaking,
not been as evident in the area as these more forward countries.
Interlocutors comment that the British have not demonstrated similar
willingness to invest time, trouble and effort. They are keen
to have British policy towards them explained and have questioned
BAe staff to that end.
The nature of business in Central Asia demands
that consistent effort needs to be invested in relationships.
For such relationships to achieve success, they need to be supported
at the highest levels. Accordingly, it is vital if Great Britain
is to play a role in the region and take advantage of the long-term
business opportunities, that not only company senior executives
invest their time, but also senior members of the government make
official visits to develop friendly relations with the various
nations. A coherent plan of visits and activities would facilitate
an environment within which business can be created thereby aiding
the development of these fledgling democracies.