The Republic of Kazakhstan is a huge country, with a landmass equating to the size of Western Europe, and in the context of Central Asia it has an economy to match. Based on significant and varied deposits of natural resources, the economy is the most powerful in the region, even though the former Soviet republic is only on the fringe of the world’s top 50. The World Bank gave Kazakhstan’s Gross Domestic Product at 197.1 billion US dollars in 2021 with an estimate of 224 billion US dollars for 2022.
Oil, natural gas, gold, titanium, zinc, coal, iron ore, copper and manganese are all on the export list. Kazakhstan also holds the world’s second-largest reserves of uranium and is the No.1 uranium producer, accounting for 33% of global output. Overall, Kazakhstan is the world’s leading exporter of radioactive metals.
These commodities are all subject to global demand and in 2022 the economy was affected by the conflict between Ukraine and Russia … one of Kazakhstan’s main trading partners. The Kazakh government acknowledged that these challenges created disruption of production, logistics and supply chains in addition to increasing inflation that particularly affected food prices. Nevertheless, the government claimed a 2.7% increase in GDP and 34% increase in foreign trade to 111 billion US dollars during 2022 and a 45% increase in foreign trade. The World Bank, however, assessed that the economy would have decelerated by 3% in 2022.
The government introduced a programme to ease business regulatory procedures as part of the drive to attract more Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). This is in line with Kazakhstan’s long-term strategic drive towards diversification, upgrading its manufacturing and industrial sector and finding an integrated high-tech role in the global economy to be reflected in its growing services sector.
The Foreign Ministry and the Ministry of National Economy, jointly responsible for attracting FDI, stated that the first nine months of 2022 saw a 17.8% increase to US$22.1 billion, compared with US$18.7 in the same period of 2021.
Another of Kazakhstan’s natural resources is its huge expanse of steppes, rolling plains and cultivated lowlands to support the agriculture sector, which is important economically and socially. Kazakhstan is Central Asia’s largest producer of grain and its only significant exporter to many countries in the region. Around 45% of Kazaks live in the sparsely-populated rural regions and around 30% depend on the agricultural sector for their income.
Kazakhstan’s position as the region’s strongest economy is underlined by a number of international memberships. These include: the United Nations, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the North Atlantic Cooperation Council, the Commonwealth of Independent States, the World Trade Organisation and the Eurasian Economic Union.