No to Normal Trade Relations Until Kazakhstan Treats Tristan Bondholders Fairly
As Kazakhstan celebrated 30 years of diplomatic relations with the US, American investors demanded that Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) are denied until it treats investors fairly.
On December 9, 2021, the US-Kazakhstan Business Council hosted senior US and Kazakhstani officials for an event commemorating the 30th Anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries at the Ritz-Carlton in Washington D.C.
Outside the building, Tristan bondholders voiced their concerns about Kazakhstan’s treatment of investors, demanding that PNTR status is not granted to Kazakhstan until the country respects its commitments under international law.
Four Members of Congress have tabled a bill that would normalize trade relations between Kazakhstan and the United States. The Tristan bondholders believe that such a bill would reward Kazakhstan’s unacceptable behavior towards American citizens and businesses.
Since 2013, in what has become known as Tristangate, Kazakhstan has refused to pay a US$ 500 million Award to Tristan Oil’s owners in compensation for the country’s illegal expropriation of assets. Even though the Award is binding, non-appealable and has been recognized in multiple jurisdictions including the U.S., Kazakhstan is pursuing an aggressive multijurisdictional legal strategy to avoid payment. This includes targeting Tristan’s bondholders.
The country’s attempts to evade its obligations demonstrate a serious disregard for the rule of law that Kazakhstan claims to hold dear. In reality, the country has made little progress in this area since 1991.
At the event, a series of panels on US-Kazakhstan relations including on trade and investment cooperation were held. Kazakhstani participants included Mukhtar Tleuberdi, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Yerzhan Ashikbayev, Ambassador of Kazakhstan to the United States, Erzhan Kazykhan, Special Representative of the President of Kazakhstan and Alibek Kuantyrov, Vice Minister of National Economy of Kazakhstan among others.