Discusses key economic indicators and trade statistics, which countries are dominant in the market, the U.S. market share, the political situation if relevant, the top reasons why U.S. companies should consider exporting to this country, and other issues that affect trade, e.g., terrorism, currency devaluations, trade agreements.
Last Published: 2/19/2019

Kazakhstan has developed into the leading market in Central Asia and is positioning itself as a transit route between China and Europe.  With somewhat limited success, it is seeking ways to use its oil and mineral wealth to diversify its economy.  These efforts, combined with a growing middle class, provide trade and investment prospects for U.S. firms seeking new opportunities in one of the most dynamic of the emerging markets.

Like other former Soviet Republics, Kazakhstan is still developing a transparent and effective business culture that is attractive to foreign investment.  The government of Kazakhstan realizes the need to implement economic reforms, though laws and regulations adopted to improve the business environment are often poorly implemented at the local level.  Foreign investors and local firms, complain of burdensome regulations that often reflect a way of doing business that is reminiscent of the Soviet Union.  Challenges remain in addressing problems related to the country’s competitiveness and economic diversification, its over-reliance on the extractive sector, continued corruption, need for increased transparency and rule of law.

Economic highlights include:

  • Kazakhstan has a healthy appetite for imported goods and in some, not all, cases is willing to pay more for higher quality and innovative technology/service.
  • Kazakhstan acceded to the World Trade Organization in November 2015.
  • The most recent report from the Heritage Foundation’s Index of Economic Freedom rated the country as “moderately free” and ranked it 41 out of 180 countries, well above neighboring China (#110) and Russia (#107).
  • President Nazarbayev’s declared aim is to have Kazakhstan join the World Economic Forum’s “Global Competitiveness” Top 30 economies by 2050.  In 2017-2018, Kazakhstan significantly improved its ranking by turning around a five-year decline, and has now climbed to the rank of 57 out of 137 countries.
Brief economic indicators are as follows:
World Bank
2018 forecast
GDP growth 8.0%4.9%6.0%4.3%1.2%1.1%4%3.7%
GNI per capita PPP Method
(former GNP)
GNI per capita Atlas Method$8,190$9,780$11,560$11,670$11,420$8,800$7,890 
(World Bank)
5%10%3%6.5% 14%6.4% 

Prepared by our U.S. Embassies abroad. With its network of 108 offices across the United States and in more than 75 countries, the U.S. Commercial Service of the U.S. Department of Commerce utilizes its global presence and international marketing expertise to help U.S. companies sell their products and services worldwide. Locate the U.S. Commercial Service trade specialist in the U.S. nearest you by visiting http://export.gov/usoffices.

Kazakhstan Trade Development and Promotion