Overview website for Kazakhstan


Kazakhstan has continued to recover strongly from the impacts of the global financial and economic crisis. Real GDP grew by 7.5% in both 2010 and 2011, and


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Kazakhstan has rebounded well from the economic recession that affected the country in the first half of 2009. During the crisis, GDP growth rate registered at just 1.2% and the country plunged into recession from the sharp fall of oil and commodity prices. With an estimated growth rate of 7.1% the first half of 2011, this oil-producing country ranks in the top 10 fastest growing countries, according to the International Monetary Fund.

Rising commodity prices and the expansion of the oil industry have helped to revive the economy with continued growth predicted, barring a dramatic decline in oil prices. However, most non-resource sectors of the economy continue to suffer from low productivity and competitiveness, and the country remains vulnerable to commodity price fluctuations.

A customs union (CU) between Kazakhstan, Russia and Belarus was established in January 1, 2010 and marked a major change in the path of regional integration with important implications for Kazakhstan. The ultimate goal is the creation of a Common Economic Space (CES) for the market of 170 million people by the end of 2012. Kazakhstan is also pursuing accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) by end of 2012. The ongoing negotiations with EU focus on application of recently introduced customs duty on oil exports.

An upper-middle-income country, Kazakhstan’s per capita GDP was US$ 11,245 in 2011. In the past decade there has been a significant decrease in poverty rates, from 46.7% in 2001 to 6.5% in 2010. The gap between urban and rural living standards still remains – the poverty rate is under 5% in urban areas, while it is about 10% in rural locations. Overall, about 30% of the population receives some sort of social assistance.

Education is a high priority for Kazakhstan, and in 2009, Kazakhstan ranked first on UNESCO’s “Education for All Development Index” by achieving near-universal levels of primary education, adult literacy, and gender parity. These results have reflected Kazakhstan’s efforts of expanding pre-school access and free, compulsory secondary education. For the next 10 years, Kazakhstan is embarking on further major reforms across all education levels.

Kazakhstan faces challenges in restructuring its healthcare system. The country’s health outcomes lag behind its rapidly increasing income. The major causes of adult mortality are non-communicable diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, other tobacco and alcohol-related diseases and injuries. The new State Health Care Development Program recognizes health as one of the country’s major priorities and a pre-requisite for sustainable socioeconomic development.

Agriculture accounts for only 5% of GDP, but the sector continues to employ almost one third (28.3%) of the working population and is critical to addressing poverty and food security, as well as providing an important avenue for diversification of the economy.

Kazakhstan inherited significant environmental concerns related to past military nuclear testing programs, industrial and mining activities, as well as land degradation, desertification, and water scarcity problems. Air and water pollution are a significant environmental concern in Kazakhstan. Environmental monitoring systems are not adequately funded to reflect the current pollution load on the environment. The Government has made progress in environmental management, but significant challenges remain.

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