Firms to ‘make Almaty benefit’ on trip

IRISH firms are to travel on a business trip to Kazakhstan — famously lampooned as a Third World backwater by comic character, Borat.

Enterprise Ireland is organising a trade mission to the former Soviet state next month and four companies have already signed up.

British comic Sasha Baron Cohen’s hit Hollywood film, Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, outraged government officials who were forced to launch a publicity campaign in the US to undo the negative image.

The Enterprise Ireland office in Moscow is organising a five-day visit which will mainly focus on Almaty, the largest city.

A spokesperson said: “We will support clients with pre-arranged itineraries, including a networking event with the Kazakh European Business Association andan evening reception.

“Support will also be extended to visits to other Kazakh cities.

“The March 12 to 16 trip will provide an excellent opportunity for clients wishing to increase their contact base and seek business opportunities in Kazakhstan.”

The ninth largest country in the world, Kazakhstan is roughly the size of Western Europe. Its economy has been growing steadily since independence in 1991 due to rich oil and gas resources. It also exports diamonds and is one of the world’s biggest producers of grain.

Other Enterprise Ireland trade missions planned for 2007 are targeting Latvia, Croatia, Slovakia, Egypt, Jordan and Latvia.

Up to a dozen Irish colleges and universities have already forged links with Kazakhstan, which has a population of 15 million.

It is unclear whether any Government ministers will be travelling on the visit.

Located on the eastern frontier of Europe, the country has borders with Russia and China and a coastline on the Caspian Sea.

The movie portrays Kazakhs as a nation of misogynists, racists and anti- Semites. Kazakhstan’s largest chain of cinemas has refused to show the film.

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