Trade between the United States and Kazakhstan stands at approximately $2 billion per year, with ample room for growth in sectors such as agriculture, energy, mining, and infrastructure. The Council will carry on the mission of the former U.S.-Kazakhstan Business Association (USKZBA) through an enhanced business and policy platform. Chevron, the largest investor in Kazakhstan, has been named Corporate Chair of the Council and will help advance the business community relationship in the country, which is home to more than 700 U.S. companies.
Over the past two decades, Kazakhstan has emerged as one of the most developed countries in the Central Asia and South Caucasus region. Due to its rich natural resources, it has one of the world’s fastest growing economies and attracts more foreign direct investment (FDI) than all the other countries in Central Asia together. (OECD, 2011b) Kazakhstan has one of the best investment climates in the region, although, according to the 2012 OECD Investment Policy Review, there are still areas in which improvements need to be made. Not surprisingly, the extractives sector dominates the economy with estimated proven oil reserves being 11th largest in the world (OECD 2012a) and with notable deposits of uranium (Kazakhstan is the largest producer worldwide), chromium, coal, iron ore, copper, zinc, lead, manganese and gold. International Monetary Fund (IMF) reports that the estimated revenues from the oil and gas sector account for about 55% of total tax revenues. In the next 15 years, oil production is expected to rise, especially due to the production at the Kashagan oil field, which is said to be the largest new field found in the past 30 years worldwide. (IMF, 2013)
Diversifying the economy has been a long-standing priority for the Kazakh government. (OECD, 2012a; Address by the President, 2012) Kazakhstan’s most recent economic strategy was outlined in December 2012 in the Kazakhstan 2050 Strategy, which considers long-term economic strategy, new sources of growth, new markets, favourable investment climate and development of effective public-private partnerships. (Address by the President, 2012) Kazakhstan 2050 Strategy also outlines support for entrepreneurship initiatives, new approaches to social policy and education policy, strengthening statehood, and a security-focused foreign policy. Kazakhstan’s goal is to be among the top 30 most developed countries in the world by 2050. In order to meet this goal, the government has re-structured for better implementation of the priorities outlined in the 2050 Strategy, most notably through the creation of a new Ministry for Regional Development in January 11 2013 and the re-organisation of responsibilities of other Ministries. Furthermore, a new national agency – National Agency for Development – will be created with the sole purpose of meeting the goals of the 2050 Strategy. (World Bank, 2013d)