Business Profile

Economy : Kazakhstan has enormous natural deposits: iron, nickel, zinc, manganese, coal, chromium, copper, lead, gold and silver are presently being mined. The coalfields of the Karaganda are some of the largest in Asia. There are substantial oil and gas deposits, many of which have only recently been located and the Kazakh government has signed joint production deals with US and European consortia. New pipeline projects agreed with the Russian Federation and Oman will offer further outlets for Kazakh oil and boost national revenues. The rapid increase in size of the sector mainly accounts for the country’s recent healthy growth, which saw GDP increase by around 10 per cent annually since 2000 (9.5 per cent in 2002). Inflation and unemployment in the same year were 6 and 9 per cent respectively. The government’s economic policy has limited the involvement of foreign investors (the oil and gas industry apart). A privatization programme has seen the bulk of the country’s commercial enterprises transferred to the domestic private sector. The government has established a strong financial position, albeit at the expense of much-needed investment in Kazakhstan’s decaying infrastructure.

Other than oil and gas, stone, such as marble and granite, is produced in large quantities. The country’s industries are predominantly concerned with processing these raw materials. Domestic production also fulfils Kazakhstan’s own energy needs. Agriculture still accounts for half of economic output. The main commodities are wheat, meat products, wool and a variety of crops: sugar beet, potatoes, cereals, cotton, fruit and vegetables. Livestock rearing is also important in this very arid region. However, one of the consequences of extensive cultivation has been heavy demand on water supplies, most particularly the rivers of Kazakhstan and its neighbour Uzbekistan : this was the major cause of one of the greatest ecological disasters of recent times - the shrinking of the Aral Sea.

Since independence, Kazakhstan has joined the IMF, World Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and has signed a partnership and co-operation agreement with the EU. It also belongs to the main regional economic co-operation venture, the Central Asian Economic Union (ECO). Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the Kazakhs have sought economic independence from the Russian Federation but find that they are still affected by developments in their larger neighbour. Russia remains Kazakhstan’s largest trading partner, followed by China, Germany, the US and Italy. In 1993, the Kazakh exchequer introduced a new currency, the tenge, to replace the rouble.

Commercial Information : The following organizations can offer advice: Trading House of the Republic of Kazakhstan, 58 Ribblesdale Avenue, London N11 3BQ, UK (tel: (020) 8368 4348; fax: (020) 8368 6886; e-mail : thrk@dircon.co.uk); or Ministry of Economy and Trade, Ministry House, Astana 47330 (tel : (3172) 117 511 or 118 146; tel/fax : (3172) 118 145); or Union of Chambers of Commerce and Industry of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Masanchi Street 26, Almaty 480091 (tel : (3272) 920 052; fax : (3272) 507 729; e-mail : tpprkaz@online.ru; website: http://www.ccikaz.kz).

Conferences/Conventions : Many international business events, by such organizations as UNESCO, ICF and others, are held in the Alatau Winter Resort near Almaty. There is an annual International Exhibition Fair called Karkara held at the Exhibition Complex of the Business Cooperation Centre in Almaty every September. Businesspeople from all over the world meet here to make contacts and conclude business contracts. Other large industrial towns, such as Karaganda, Pavlodar and Chimkent, have conference and convention facilities and other industrial exhibitions and fairs are held here.

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