Kazakhstan's economy is dominated by the oil
industry; it accounts for over half of export earnings
and contributes to almost a third of GDP. Falling oil
prices contributed to an economic crisis in 2014 and the
government is trying to reduce the state's dependence on
The oil has attracted large foreign investment to the
country and contributed to high growth during the period
2000-2007. The international financial crisis of
2008-2009 hit the Kazakh economy with overbought banks,
growing unemployment and a currency devaluation that hit
the poor population hard. But growth was above zero,
thanks in large part to high raw material prices, and
soon it accelerated again.
Major imports by Kazakhstan, covering a full list of top products imported by the country and trade value for each product category.
The crisis of 2014
New turmoil caused the economy to slow down again in
2014. At the beginning of the year, the central bank was
forced to write down the currency, tenge, by 19 percent.
This was a result of the currency's value falling as a
result of a strong outflow of foreign capital. The
devaluation triggered sharp reactions from savers and
entrepreneurs. To prevent a bank crash, then-President
Nazarbayev ordered the government to use state-funded
funds to promote growth. Public sector salaries were
increased, as were pensions and social security
From the summer of 2014, the world market price of
oil fell sharply at the same time as the Ukraine crisis
(see Ukraine, current policy) and slower growth in China
had a dampening effect on the region. Growth fell and
the government implemented incentive measures, including
in the form of a privatization program and investment in
Abbreviationfinder.org: Check this abbreviation website to find three letter ISO codes for all countries in the world, including KAZ which represents the country of Kazakhstan.
In the fall of 2014, Kazakhstan signed a cooperation
agreement with the EU and hoped to attract new foreign
investors. The sanctions imposed by Western countries on
Russia because of the situation in Ukraine provided an
opportunity for Kazakhstan to attract foreign investors.
At the same time, the stagnation of the Russian economy
was a cause for concern for the Kazakhs, for both
political and economic reasons.
In August 2015, the central bank abandoned the fixed
exchange rate and allowed the bond to float, promptly
losing 26 percent of its value against the US dollar.
The measure was partly explained by demands from the
Opec countries restricted oil production from 2017 in
order to push up world market prices. Kazakh growth was
increasing, but a popular dissatisfaction was that the
living standards of the majority of people were not
improved enough and that the government was unable to
create enough new jobs. President Nazarbayev's departure
in 2019 did not lead to any changes in economic policy.
Kazakhstan has attracted greater foreign investment
per inhabitant than any other former Soviet Republic,
even though stringent regulatory systems, widespread
corruption and a weak judicial system make it difficult
for stakeholders abroad. The dependence on an individual
sector makes the economy vulnerable to fluctuations in
world market prices. The government is trying to broaden
the economic base and develop new industries to reduce
dependence on commodity exports.
Kazakhstan is often praised for well-managed finances
and market liberal legislation that has contributed to
the large foreign investment. After the painful
transition from the planning to the market economy in
the 1990s, the financial situation has generally been
robust. The tax system has been reformed, a new pension
system has been launched and the banking sector has
developed steadily. Kazakhstan was able to repay its
debt to the IMF in early 2000 - as the first former
In the 1990s, Kazakhstan struggled with a trade
deficit, but since then the upswing in oil exports has
led to a sharp trade surplus. Other important export
goods are metals, natural gas, cereals and chemicals.
Previously, almost all trade took place within the
Soviet Union. Russia is still the largest importing
country, but otherwise the EU countries and China have
become increasingly important trading partners.
Read about the economic cooperation of the former
Soviet Republic and the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) in
Foreign Policy and Defense.
FACTS - FINANCE
GDP per person
US $ 9,331 (2018)
US $ 170 539 M (2018)
4.1 percent (2018)
Agriculture's share of GDP
4.2 percent (2018)
Manufacturing industry's share of GDP
11.6 percent (2018)
The service sector's share of GDP
54.5 percent (2018)
5.3 percent (2019)
Government debt's share of GDP
21.0 percent (2018)
US $ 167 485 M (2017)
US $ 59,630 M (2018)
US $ 33,271 million (2018)
- US $ 52 million (2018)
Commodity trade's share of GDP
55 percent (2018)
Main export goods
Oil and petroleum products, metals, grain (2017)
Largest trading partner
Russia, China, Italy, Germany, Netherlands, France,
The president's son-in-law is sentenced to 20 years in prison
Nazarbayev's exiled son-in-law Rachat is sentenced in his absence to 20 years
in prison for planning a coup. Rachat rejects the allegations and claims that
they are politically motivated.
The Naghyz Ak Zjol party changes its name to Freedom (Azat).