Despite being the ninth largest country in the world, Kazakhstan remains, for many people, an unknown quantity. Its territory is over 2.7 million km2 and the country is bigger than the land mass covering the entire Western Europe. The population of the country is estimated at around 16 million people who are predominantly ethnic Kazakhs. Interestingly, however, there are around 130 nationalities representing 46 religious denominations also living in Kazakhstan.
Kazakhstan is strategically located in Central Asia between Russia and China, and its position as the most stable and economically developed state in the Central Asian region means that it is well situated to develop its rich natural resources as well as to sell these resources into the growing Chinese market.
The current, modern capital of Kazakhstan – Astana is one of the youngest and quickest growing capitals of the world. The city was established in 1997 and the President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbaev, has set an ambitious goal for Astana to become one of the world’s top-30 most beautiful, competitive and business-favourable cities by 2030.
Kazakhstan has one of the most successfully developing economies in the world. It has enjoyed a steady growth in its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for the last five years with year-on-year increases of over 9%. This is principally due to the result of systematic reforms (including privatisation and liberalisation of trade and prices) foreign investment, and the increases in both agricultural production and commodities prices over the past few years.
Since 1993, the Country has attracted more than $US118 billion of foreign direct investment into its economy with significant investors including Western conglomerates including Shell, Exxon Mobil, Chevron and BG Group as well as a range of large Russian and Chinese corporations. By way of example, China currently owns ~20% of Kazakhstan's oil production and ~73 million barrels of oil were exported to China from Kazakhstan in 2010.
The Republic of Kazakhstan is of great interest to foreign investors. The investment appeal of the Kazakh market is as result of the combination of access to natural resources, size of the market, the strategic location of Kazakhstan, as well as the stable internal political situation and a robust legal framework. At present, priority investment directions are fuel and energy; agro-industrials and infrastructure projects including transport, telecommunications, and social infrastructure. Kazakhstan has created a favourable investment climate with the President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbaev personally chairing the Council of Foreign Investors.
Kazakhstan has the 6th largest reserves of natural resources in the world. Kazakhstan possesses enormous oil and gas reserves as well as plentiful supplies of other minerals and metals. Oil and gas reserves (excluding the Caspian Shelf) total 21 billion barrels of oil and gas condensate and the Caspian oilfields of Kazakhstan are estimated to hold an additional 100 billion barrels of recoverable oil. The oil and gas sector of the country accounts for 58 percent of all foreign investments and the industry provides more than 30 percent of all tax proceeds and over 40 percent of the available funds of the country. According to the estimates of international experts, the resource potential of Kazakhstan equates to $US9 trillion with $US500 billion of investment still required to unlock this potential.
Industry analysts believe that planned expansion of oil production, together with the development of new fields, will enable the country to produce as much as 2 million barrels per day by 2015 making the country one of the world’s top 10 oil producers
More information about Kazakhstan is available from the website www.government.kz, the official website of the Government of Kazakhstan.