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Kazakhstan`s Regulatory Environment

Brief History

Until the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1992, its governmental system for metrology and standardization applied to all the union republics, including Kazakhstan. To avoid disintegration of the system for standardization in the post-Soviet era, the member nations of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), including the Republic of Kazakhstan, adopted an agreement* under which the national standards of the USSR in force prior to 1992 were adopted as intergovernmental standards of the CIS members. Thus, Kazakhstan inherited thousands of standards from the USSR. The majority of these are still in use in Kazakhstan. In addition, the agreement included a provision that the industry-specific regulatory documents approved by the government of the former USSR and in force prior to 1992 could be used in the CIS member nations until the introduction of new, national regulatory documents by the nations signing the agreement.

Current Regulatory Environment

Since gaining independence in 1991, Kazakhstan has developed its own technical regulations and standards to replace some of those of the former USSR. However, until recently the processes for developing these documents and applying them in practice and the procedures for oversight of compliance with requirements were based on principles inherited from the socialist system. The limitations of the old system for technical regulation became obvious after centralized planning was discarded and Kazakhstan has made significant progress toward creating a market economy. The European Union and the U.S. Department of Commerce recognized the success of Kazakhstan`s reforms by granting it market economy status. The fundamental changes leading to globalization of the world economy and the gradual integration of Kazakhstan into the world economic system in recent years have made it necessary to eliminate technical barriers and to reform the old Soviet system for standardization and technical regulation.

Reforming the System for Technical Regulation

The Republic of Kazakhstan Law № 603-II, “Technical Regulation”, which became effective as of May 13, 2005, establishes the legal foundations for the new regulatory framework suitable for Kazakhstan’s new economic model. The new non-tariff regulation system will resemble regulatory regimes adopted by other nations committed to free-market principles. It will rely on a healthy balance of mandatory government regulations and voluntary private-sector technical standards to protect public health, safety, and the environment.

What is non-tariff regulation? Non-tariff regulation includes licensing of business activities, certification of products and services, and requirements in the form of national laws, orders, codes, government resolutions, technical regulations, standards, and other legal and technical documents. Tariffs and quotas are mechanisms for tariff regulation.

The Transitional Period

The law on technical regulation establishes a transitional period during which new government regulations that define mandatory safety requirements for all individuals and legal entities operating in Kazakhstan will be developed and enacted.

The Technical Standards Are Still in Force

To paraphrase Mark Twain, news of the death of technical standards has been greatly exaggerated. Nobody has canceled the existing technical standards in Kazakhstan. The previous regulatory documents, including technical regulations and requirements in the spheres of health, safety, and environmental protection will remain mandatory during the transitional period.

Licensing and Certification

Certification of products and services will follow the existing procedure until the new technical regulations enter into force. As a new legal basis for assessing the compliance of products and services with safety requirements is developed, certification will become voluntary, except for those cases where specific products are covered by national laws. Business activity will continue to be regulated by the law on licensing.

The technical regulations and standards in use in Kazakhstan have been gathered into a single database, the Database of Industry Standards of the Republic of Kazakhstan. To access it, subscribe to the Regulatory Information Services.

*Agreement of the Heads of Government of the CIS Nations dated March 13, 1992.

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