He advises Chinese investors to closely study the local legal, taxation and planning requirements, as well as prevailing government policies, and pursue rigorous due-diligence. Chinese investors in locations other than the cities mentioned are less active in the commercial real estate market. In Kazakhstan, for example, Chinese investors are more interested in acquiring land plots and buildings for the production of construction materials, foods, the construction of energy facilities and other commercial purposes, says Yerzhan Yessimkhanov, a partner of GRATA Law Firm in Almaty. Chinese individuals are also acquiring real estate in Kazakhstan for personal use, he adds.
“Historically, local players in Kazakhstan are quite strong in the commercial real estate market. It would be reasonable, however, to expect the rise in presence of Chinese investors in the commercial real estate market in Kazakhstan, since the financial condition of many local players is now far from stable,” Yessimkhanov says.
At the same time, it should be noted that in Kazakhstan, foreign investors are still not able to acquire certain categories of land in ownership, primarily land of agricultural designation. Yessimkhanov says this appears to be one of the key concerns for Chinese companies, as they are very active in the agricultural sector in Kazakhstan. “Currently, there is active discussion on the possibility of allowing foreigners to acquire land for agricultural use, but taking into consideration that this idea is not supported by the public, we do not think any substantial legal developments will take place in this regard in the near future,” he says.
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