Kazakhstan is the largest country of the Central Asian republics in terms of geography, and also the most developed in terms of its economy and business environment. In 2020, Kazakhstan ranked 25th in the World Bank´s Ease of Doing Business report. From the region, Uzbekistan is Kazakhstan´s closest competitor in terms of the development level of the business environment. Apart from Kazakhstan, the Central Asian region includes Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan.
Kazakhstan´s main challenge in terms of its economy during recent times has been to diversify and support growth in sectors other than minerals and hydrocarbons. Traditionally commodities have been the main supporting block of the economy. In order to secure long-term economic growth, investments into a broader spectrum of economic activity and supporting structural reforms are needed.
Kazakhstan is integrated into the global economy via the following memberships in various associations:
- World Trade Organization;
- Commonwealth of Independent States;
- Eurasian Economic Union (along with Armenia, Belarus, Russia, Kyrgyzstan);
- Economic Cooperation Organization (along with Pakistan, Turkey, Iran, Azerbaijan, Afganistan);
- Shanghai Cooperation Organization.
The key economic sectors in Kazakhstan currently are oil & gas extraction and mining, construction, agriculture, logistics, and information technology. As mentioned the country is rich in minerals and hydrocarbons. Due to its geographic location, it is also a key transport hub for rail and other logistics between east and west.
The IT sector is growing fast in Kazakhstan, as it is globally. There are several organizations in Kazakhstan that support startup activity and IT firms. The Astana Hub for IT firms and startups is a special economic zone that provides tax breaks and easier visa regimes for IT investors. There are also many business incubators and accelerator organizations such as MOST and iStartUp.
Many business communities and chambers of commerce are active in Kazakhstan. For Finnish companies there is a well-established network of Business Finland active in the country.