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Key Economic Data 
  2003 2002 2001 Ranking(2003)
Millions of US $ 29,749 24,205 22,400 60
GNI per capita
 US $ 1,780 1,510 1,350 119
Ranking is given out of 208 nations - (data from the World Bank)

Books on Kazakstan


Area ( 


ethnic groups 
Kazaks 44.3%
Russians 35.8%
Ukrainians 5.1%
Germans 3.6%
and many others

(formerly Akmola)


Nursultan Nazarbayev

Update No: 293 - (27/05/05)

The threat of contagion not so great
The events in neighbouring Kyrgyzstan and now Uzbekistan are disturbing for all the other regimes in Central Asia. But the Kazak one has less to fear than the rest for one very good reason - its economy is growing flat out at around 10% per annum and has been for years. This creates a totally different context than prevailed in desperately poor Kyrgyzstan or impoverished Uzbekistan. 
Moreover, the regime is not so grim as in Uzbekistan. It does not have thousands of political prisoners. The old Soviet ways die hard but were it not for President Nazerbayev's typically Central Asian view that his country is a family business, his would be regarded as one of the best bright hopes amongst the FSU nations. As it is Kazakhstani President Nursultan Nazarbayev is offering his people a vision of an economically bright future

The EEC, not the EU, is the issue
In the Western-oriented part of the FSU, the key question is that of joining the EU. Elsewhere, the newly formalized Eurasian Economic Community (EEC) represents the most ambitious effort to create a customs union and free trade zone among the newly independent states since the break-up of the Soviet Union, wholly independent of the EU. 
Nazarbayev has been chosen to guide the organization's critical early phase of development, which seeks to avoid the pitfalls that have hampered regional cooperation initiatives during the last decade. One of Nazarbayev's chief challenges will be ensuring that Russia does not assume disproportionate influence over the organization. 
On May 31st in Minsk, Nazarbayev, once a prominent Kazakh Communist and popular Soviet politician, became the head of the EEC's coordinating State Council. Russian president Vladimir Putin nominated Nazarbayev, and the heads of Belarus, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan endorsed the nomination. So this long-time advocate of blending economic alliances and national sovereignty now finds himself charged with coordinating the EEC after 10 years of post-Soviet economic trial and error. 
Since signing the EEC integration treaty in Astana in the fall of 2000, member states have ratified a package of 18 supplemental implementing documents. Modelled in part upon successful integration efforts such as the European Union, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and Mercosur, the treaty draws its primary inspiration from a decade of abortive experiments among the former Soviet states. 
The 1991 treaty creating the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) includes language about a "common economic space." But this was more problematic than many expected, and countries have struggled to establish mechanisms for moving people, goods, and services across borders. The past decade's jump in international trade and investment largely bypassed the economies of the CIS. What's more, lacking coordinating mechanisms, CIS countries started trading less with each other: trade among members declined as a proportion of CIS total trade. Nationalism and one-upmanship, as well as bureaucratic obstacles, fostered a climate of protectionism and economic hostility. 
To combat this syndrome, CIS agreements have long sought to further coordinate monetary, customs, employment, tax and investment policies across the region. CIS countries have been formally pledged to a free trade area since 1993, when they signed an Economic Union Treaty to reduce internal tariffs, create common external tariffs, and establish a system for payments and settlements. This treaty and its many successor agreements, though, incorporated few effective sanctions or enforcement powers. And the neo-colonial flavour of Russia's early dealings with the CIS made many nations suspicious. So energy-rich states like Turkmenistan and iconoclasts like Uzbekistan began favouring bilateral agreements. 
The EEC grew out of a reiteration of the CIS principles by Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia. These trade-motivated states declared a customs union in 1994 that effectively endorsed existing trade provisions. Kyrgyzstan signed on the next year, and Tajikistan joined in 1999. The EEC augments the customs union with sanction and enforcement powers. 
Integration arrangements only work when they can equitably spread burdens and benefits. In the early days of the CIS, Russia appeared to be ready to assume the role of integrator. But Russia's CIS neighbours reacted charily to even well intentioned overtures. The states needed a structure in which members could sanction or punish each other - and small states could resist Russian machinations. Enter Nazarbayev. 

Regional power-house
Kazakhstan, a landlocked, export-oriented state rich in minerals and oil, has strong impetus to improve regional trade and integration. Dissatisfied with the failures of CIS cooperation, Nazarbayev in 1996 set up an Integration Committee, headquartered in Almaty, Kazakhstan, to develop a framework to coordinate financial markets, services, commodities, labour, and regulations. The committee studied the formation of ASEAN and NAFTA in hopes of coordinating a new system. The result - the EEC treaty - could fulfil Nazarbayev's long-standing vision of national independence closely linked to free market-based inter-state economic cooperation. 
Unlike the initial customs union, the EEC seeks to survive as its own decision-making body. It has its own court and the power to boot members who refuse to play by its rules. It also gives itself some negotiating responsibilities within other international organizations such as the WTO. And while the EEC is not intended to limit the sovereignty of its member states, it seeks recognition from the United Nations as a regional international organization. 
Of course, Russia will exercise 40 percent of the voting rights and will be responsible for meeting 40 percent of the organization's operating expenses. (Belarus and Kazakhstan each have 20 percent of the shares. Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan each have 10 percent.) But the EEC Charter specifies that a vote on major policy issues will require two-thirds agreement, so Russia would have to have at least two other states supporting it to win a vote on a major issue. On the other hand, Russia seems likely to exercise veto power on major initiatives. 
For this reason, critics argue that the EEC amounts to Soviet-era "pokazuka," something convenient that only addresses perceptions rather than structures. Uzbekistan President Islam Karimov, who also attended the CIS Heads of State meeting in Minsk, was quoted in the Russian press as denigrating the EEC, observing that similar arrangements had been tried before and failed. He noted that not even the EEC proponents could distinguish it from the earlier attempts at forming a customs union and free trade area. But there are reasons to believe that the EEC is different. 
For one thing, Russia's position in the region has changed. After many years of trying to create a sphere of influence in Central Asia, Russia found many Central Asian countries distancing themselves. And those countries gained leverage in other ways. The rouble devaluation following the financial collapse of 1998 made Central Asian consumers a hungrier (and more important) market for Russian manufactured goods. More important, Russia's imbroglio in secessionist Chechnya, with its guerrilla attacks on civilians, made Russia eager to curry favour with moderate Muslim leaders of the Central Asian governments. But the EEC's new sanctioning and steering powers are designed to prevail even when Russia feels expansive. It will have substantially stronger coordinating powers than its predecessors and will have the ability to impose sanctions on non-cooperating members. 
Nazarbayev's "Eurasianism" must steer the CIS away from the economic nationalism of the early '90s. That won't be easy, but Nazarbayev has some structure in place. After all, the CIS helped stabilize the economic climate by allowing for a relatively civilized break-up and avoiding the "Yugoslavia syndrome." States that can hang together loosely for an interim period can learn to craft lasting mechanisms: the U.S., after all, had to live under the Articles of Confederation before imagining the Constitution. Optimists hope the EEC marks a similar inflection point. 

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Fitch rates Kazakstan Bank Alliance

Fitch Ratings assigned Kazakstan's Bank Alliance with long-term, short-term and support ratings, the agency said in a recent report. The ratings are based on the possibility of support to the bank from the Kazak authorities in case of need. The individual rating reflects the risks associated with Alliance's rapid growth, its modest performance and still relatively small size, as well as certain weaknesses in the operating environment, the report said, New Europe reported.
However, it also took into account the bank's adequate capitalisation, successful business development and good liquidity. Alliance was founded in 1993 in Pavlodar and merged in 1999 with another mid-sized regional bank. New shareholders acquired Alliance in 2001. Since then it has grown to become one of the larger banks in Kazakstan, ranked sixth and fifth by assets and equity at end-2004.

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Kazakstan, Uzbekistan discuss cooperation

Negotiations on developing trade between Kazakstan and Uzbekistan were held in Tashkent on April 28th. Last year goods turnover between the two countries increased 44% totalling US$425.9m. The potential of both countries' economies permits increasing it up to US$1bn and stretching it to a higher level. The head of the delegation of Kazakstan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Industry and Trade, Sauat Mynbayev, said recently that three protocols were expected to be signed in the course of the talks, Kazinform reported.
The protocols aim to secure favourable conditions for trade and investments between Kazakstan and Uzbekistan. Mynbayev stressed the free trade regime between the countries envisages withdrawals and restrictions. The point was to reduce the nomenclature and the number of withdrawals and restrictions.

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Kazakstan's 2004 foreign debt swells to 32bn Euro

Kazakstan's foreign debts increased 39.9% to 32.08bn Euro in 2004, the country's National Bank said recently, Interfax News Agency reported.
Long-term debts represented 28.45bn Euro of that, short-term debts 3.58bn Euro.
State guaranteed state foreign debts increased 1.2% to 3.67bn Euro. Non-guaranteed state foreign debts owed by companies and organisations in the private sector increased 48.8% to 28.66bn Euro from 19.27n Euro, including debts owed by lending institutions that increased to 6.86bn Euro from 3.514bn Euro. Kazakstan's gross domestic product (GDP) expanded 9.4% to 5.543 trillion tenges in 2004 and 9.3% year-on-year in the first quarter of 2005. Prime Minister, Danial Akhemtov said in a presidential press release. During a meeting with president Nursultan Nazarbayev, Akhmetov reported on the fulfilment of points in a recent presidential letter to the Kazak people. "The government has to keep under constant control the points in the letter associated with improving citizens' social conditions, and special attention also has to be paid to the question of setting Almaty up as a financial centre for the Central Asian region," Nazarbayev said. GDP for this year is forecast at 5.85 trillion tenges, 7.9% more than last year.

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Russia-Kazakstan economic ties expand

A roundtable meeting was held by the Russian embassy in Kazakstan and Russia's Trade Representation at the Centre of Science and Culture to discuss expansion of Russia-Kazakstan trade and economic cooperation, Kazinform reported recently.
The acting trade representative of Russia to Kazakstan, Constantin Kuzmichyov, outlined the general tendency in trade and economic cooperation of the two states. The participants also predicted that there are good chances for further cooperation in the oil and gas sector, engineering, agriculture, transport and other industries, with the key role belonging to the innovation and high-tech sectors.
Meanwhile, Kazak President Nursultan Nazarbayev recently visited Moscow to meet his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, the president's press service reported. This was the third meeting between the two leaders this year. Putin personally welcomed Nazarbayev.
The main topics of discussion during the meeting were the reformation of the CIS and promotion of interaction within the Unified Economic Area between Kazakstan, Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. Extensive projects in machine engineering, energy and metallurgy was also discussed.
Commenting upon the development of bilateral economic cooperation, Putin pointed out the record growth of goods turnover between the countries which in 2004 was up 1.5-fold and exceeded the bar by US$8bn. The head offices of Russian companies and joint Russian-Kazakstan enterprises, such as LUKoil Overseas Services LLP, KazRos-Gas, ROSNO, Alfa-Bank, Transaero and other companies also participated in the roundtable discussion on how to expand trade and economic cooperation between Russia and Kazakstan.
The objective of the campaign was to study the current problems and digest the perspectives of trade and economic partnership between Russia and Kazakstan. The participants of the sitting emphasised the investment attractiveness and efficient level of Kazakstan's banking system. They pointed out great opportunities in development of interaction in oil and gas industry, agriculture, and agricultural machine engineering and transport sector.

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World Bank to finance Kazak agro development

The World Bank and the Kazak government recently signed a loan agreement for a Kazakstan Second Agricultural Post-Privatisation Assistance project. Until now, the overall share of loans in the agriculture sector of Kazakstan amounted to US$136m, New Europe reported.
The project has a total cost of 96.1m Euro and the World Bank is contributing 35m Euro towards its financing. This project will assist farmers and small- and medium-sized rural enterprises to get access to commercial financial services that would lead to overall agricultural development, one of the key sector of the economy of Kazakstan that still provide livelihood to over US$40 of the population, make it more competitive and improve living conditions of the rural population.
The Agricultural Post-Privatisation Assistance project will enhance access to rural financial services by strengthening and expanding the rural advisory services programme, supporting agricultural risk management initiatives, developing and implementing new financial instruments by commercial banks and leasing companies, and finally supporting rural micro-finance schemes to rural micro entrepreneurs that are currently excluded from the formal banking sector.
Kazinform quoted Loup Brefort, country manager for Kazakstan, as saying this signed agreement confirms the interest of the government and the World Bank to work closely together to strengthen agriculture. This loan will provide resources to improve access to finance for small and medium agricultural entities, he said.
After signing, the loan agreement will be submitted to the Kazak parliament for ratification and the loan would be declared as effective. Then the agreement would be available to the public and the project implementation would begin.
Meanwhile, the government and the World Bank are in the process of finalising agreement on a second project in the sector, the Agriculture Competitiveness Project, which would soon be submitted to the World Bank board of directors. A rebound in Kazakstan's agricultural production and growing investment needs have increased the demand for financial services in agriculture and long-term investment lending.
"The second Phase of the project was included in the list of priority budget investment projects (programmes) for 2005-2007 which compose the Medium Term Plan for Socio-Economic Development for 2005-2007 approved by the Kazakstan government decree as of August 31st 2004 and corresponds to the objectives of the State Agricultural and Food Programme of Kazakstan for 2003-2005 issued by the decree of the president in 2002, said Kazak Finance Minister, Arman Dunayev.

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Alumina production up 2.9%, steel down 38.2%

Kazakstan increased alumina production 2.9% year-on-year in the first quarter of 2005 to 370,079 tonnes, the State Statistics Agency said recently, Interfax News Agency reported.
Unprocessed zinc production rose 25.1% to 92,133 tonnes and unprocessed lead production was up 10.5% to 37,671 tonnes, but refined copper production fell 4.7% to 100,889 tonnes. Meanwhile, Kazakstan reduced production to flat rolled steel products 38.2% year-on-year to 956,102 tonnes in the first quarter of 2005. The total included 37,741 tonnes of tin-plate and tin-plated sheet, down 47.5% and 107,135 tonnes of galvanised steel, down 46.6%. Kazakstan reduced crude steel production 29.2% year-on-year to 956,102 tonnes. Ferroalloy production went up by 9.5% to 381,610 tonnes.

South Korea, Kazakstan to jointly mine uranium

South Korea and Kazakstan agreed on April 22nd to establish a joint company to mine uranium in the west-central Asian country to ensure Seoul a safe supply of the mineral, officials said recently, Last year both countries signed an agreement on the matter at a summit between the heads of state.
The officials at the ministry of commerce, industry and energy said that the company, to be set up within the year, is projected to go on line in 2008 and start full-blown production in 2010 with an annual output of 1,000 tonnes.
"The ability to mine uranium will better shield the company from price fluctuations in the international market," a ministry official said. South Korea operates 19 nuclear reactors, but does not mine the mineral independently or in cooperation with a third party. In 2004, Seoul imported 3,239 tonnes of uranium to meet its domestic needs, Yonhap said.
The country relies on imports from Australia, the United States, France, Britain and Canada to provide the bulk of its uranium needs. It also imports some from South Africa and Kazakstan. Apart from the uranium project, Kazakstan and South Korea inked a protocal that calls for the joint development of the Zhambyl oil field of the Caspian Sea, South Korean News Agency reported.

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