During the Soviet period, Kazakhstan's business was
governed by the Soviet Union's central planning. By virtue
of its rich natural resources, Kazakhstan was primarily a
commodity producer. According to
COUNTRYAAH, the degree of integration with the rest
of the Soviet Union's economy was high, with a large
proportion of local businesses directly under the control of
all-union trade ministries. Only in the consumer and food
sector did local authorities exert some greater influence.
In parallel with the political liberation, the country in
the early 1990s also moved away from central planning and
administrative instruments in business.
During the 1990s, a comprehensive privatization program
was implemented, the country's tax system was reformed and
the state made it easier for foreign companies to invest in
the country. Combined with the start of exploiting the
country's rich oil and gas resources, this led to the
country being able to reverse the negative economic
development that has been going on for a long time in the
late 1990s. Economic growth has been around 10 per cent
during the 00s, but the country is still very dependent on
its commodity exports, now mainly oil, gas and metal.
A fertile black earth belt extends into northern
Kazakhstan, which provides good conditions for agriculture.
In the central and southern parts, the climate is drier, and
the space for agriculture is deteriorating accordingly.
Traditionally, grassy steppes have been used for extensive
pasture farming, and sheep farming and steak breeding are
still being conducted there. However, the Soviet period
meant increasing cultivation, often with erosion damage as a
result. Agriculture was collectivized in the 1930s, not
infrequently in brutal forms. After independence, 95 percent
of agriculture has been privatized, usually in corporate
form or as a cooperative. Small family farms are rare.
In Kazakhstan, cereals, fruits and vegetables and
industrial crops such as sunflowers, rapeseed and flax are
grown. The grain production in the north is focused on wheat
and feed grain and in the south on rice. Meat, dairy
products and wool are other important products.
Minerals and energy
Alongside the Russian Federation, Kazakhstan is one of
the former Soviet Union's sub-republics that is most
well-stocked with raw materials. Energy is extracted in the
form of both oil (in the western part of the country) and
coal (among others at Karaganda). The coal, which is usually
extracted in mining, is of high quality. There is also
natural gas, and the uranium deposits are among the largest
in the world. The supplies of iron, nickel, chromium,
tungsten and titanium are significant, as is the presence of
silver, copper, lead and zinc. In the early 2000s, oil's
importance to the economy has increased, and oil exports now
account for about 70 percent of the country's export
Metallurgy is at the heart of Kazakhstan's industry.
Large lead and zinc plants can be found in Tjimkent, Ridder
(Leninogorsk) and Ust-Kamenogorsk, aluminum plants in
Pavlodar and iron and steel plants in Temirtau and
Karaganda. The engineering industry occupies a much more
sheltered location and, where applicable, seeks primarily to
meet the needs of the mines and the raw material processing
sectors. In Kazakhstan, there is also the petrochemical,
textile, clothing and food industries.