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. 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.
- COUNTRYAAH: Find major trading partners of Kazakhstan, including major exports and major imports with latest trade value and market share as well as growth rate.
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 percent 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 revenues.
- According to AllCityPopulation, the capital city of Kazakhstan is Nursultan (formerly Astana) with a population of 1,078,000 (official estimate 2019). Other major cities include Almaty with a population of 1,900,000, Sjymkent with a population of 1,000,000, Qaraghandy with a population of 498,000, Aqtöbe with a population of 488,000 (official estimate 2019).
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.