Economic News in Brief

Kazakhstan’s National Bank has the cash reserves it needs to support the national currency, the tenge, as the country begins taking measures to make its currency more flexible, the International Monetary Fund announced, according to a May 19 report by Bloomberg. The country has sufficient international reserves to withstand even “strong pressure,” according to Juha Kahkonen, deputy director of the IMF’s Middle East and Central Asia department. Kazakhstan’s currency was allowed to weaken by 19 percent in February 2014, and has since been fighting pressure to devalue again as the Russian rouble’s value has fallen. National Bank Chairman (Governor) Kairat Kelimbetov said that the tenge corridor is adequate for now, but the country must move to a new currency policy in the next 12-36 months at an IMF conference in Almaty in May.

 
Tengizchevroil (TCO), Kazakhstan’s biggest oil company, increased crude output by 4.4 percent year-on-year to 7.1 million tonnes in the first quarter of this year, TCO General Director Tim Miller said on June 1, as reported by Reuters. TCO is the developer of the giant Tengiz onshore oil and gas field. TCO plans to boost its annual output by 42 percent, to 38 million tonnes, by 2021, the report said. Direct payments to the government of Kazakhstan for the first quarter of 2015 were $3 billion, Miller said, and since 1993, the company has paid $106.9 billion to the country. TCO is 50 percent owned by Chevron, with Exxon Mobil, KazMunayGas and Russia’s Lukarco holding minority shares.

 
According to official statistics, in July-April of 2014-2015, Kazakhstan exported 2.6 million tonnes of wheat, a decrease of 37 percent compared with the same period in the previous season, The Financial reports. Monthly shipment volumes of wheat fell by 19-52 percent compared to last year. Since beginning of the season, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan have imported the most Kazakh wheat so far this season, according to APK Inform.

 
Lukoil and KazMunayGas have signed a memorandum of understanding to expand cooperation in exploration at unlicensed areas in Kazakhstan, Oil Voice reports. President of Lukoil Vagit Alekperov visited Astana to attend the 28th Plenary Session of the Foreign Investors’ Council under the President of Kazakhstan and met with Prime Minister of Kazakhstan Karim Massimov, executives from Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Energy and KazMunayGas, the national oil company of Kazakhstan. The parties discussed Lukoil’s operations in Kazakhstan and signed the memorandum following their meeting. Lukoil has been operating in Kazakhstan since 1995 and currently has seven ongoing onshore production projects. Lukoil is the largest Russian investor in Kazakhstan and since beginning operations in the country has invested more than $7 billion into Kazakhstan’s economy.

 
More than $5 billion has been invested by the government into Kazakhstan’s agro-industrial complex over the last four years, President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev announced at the plenary session of the Foreign Investor’s Council in Astana, BNews reports. The sector is becoming more profitable and more important to the nation’s economy as a result, he said, particularly due to the Agribusiness 2020 state programme. Overall, $16 billion will be invested into the sector through the programme, the President said, in an effort to make Kazakhstan’s agricultural production come closer to its “enormous potential.”

 
Chairman of the Kazakhstan’s Mazhilis (lower chamber of Parliament) Kabibulla Dzhakupov received Ambassador of Saudi Arabia to Kazakhstan Ghorom bin Saeed Al Malhan to discuss bilateral cooperation, particularly trade, economic and inter-parliamentary cooperation development, BNews reports. The pharmaceuticals, oil and gas sectors were identified as promising agricultural areas. Dzhakupov emphasised Kazakhstan’s favourable investment climate and the country’s interested in attracting new technologies. There is great potential for economic cooperation between Saudi Arabia and Kazakhstan, he said.

Get The Astana Times stories sent directly to you! Sign up via the website or subscribe to our Twitter and Telegram!