Kazakhstan Pioneers Economic Liberalization with Structural Renewal Initiatives

Last year, Kazakhstan’s President, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, outlined a new economic strategy for the country, targeting a 6–7% annual growth rate to double gross domestic product (GDP) by 2029. This economic growth should be supported by a balanced monetary policy designed to keep inflation at nearly 5%, alongside ongoing reforms in the social sector.

Dynamics of main indicators

Aigerim Sultanbekova.

At the end of 2023, Kazakhstan’s GDP grew by 5.1%. All major sectors experienced positive growth: construction increased by 13.3%, trade by 11.3%, information and communication services by 7.1%, transport services by 6.9%, and industry by 4.3%. In 2024, the government predicts further growth of at least 5.3%.

The World Bank forecasts stable economic growth for Kazakhstan over the next two years. GDP is expected to rise by 4.5–5% in 2025, driven by expanded production capacity and increased petrochemical exports.

At the end of last year, the volume of fixed capital investments in Kazakhstan reached 18 trillion tenge ($40 billion), reflecting a 13.7% increase in real terms compared to 2022. Most of these investments were concentrated in industry, accounting for 45.7% of the total. Within this sector, the mining and metallurgical complex received 26.3%, while the manufacturing industry received 9.4%. Investments in real estate operations (construction) comprised 17.9%, and the transport sector accounted for 14%.

In 2023, Kazakhstan became the leader in Central Asia and the Caucasus for venture transactions. The country’s venture funding volume has grown more than fivefold over the past five years, exceeding $110 million.

As of the first quarter of 2024, the average nominal salary was 382,279 tenge ($846), 12.3% higher than in the corresponding quarter of 2023. In real terms, the indicator also showed positive dynamics, with growth reaching 2.7%.

Regionally, the largest increase in average monthly nominal wages for the analyzed period occurred in the West Kazakhstan Region (18.2%), Almaty city (16.4%), Aktobe Region (16.1%), and Pavlodar Region (15.9 %).

Government’s economic strategy 

The government plans to approve the National Development Plan of Kazakhstan until 2029, including a map of key national indicators, to outline the strategy for the country’s development in the medium term. Within this plan, five cross-cutting principles underlying economic transformations have been identified: liberalization and stimulation of competition, protection of entrepreneurship with a transparent, predictable, and attractive economic policy for investors, providing quality education and supporting entrepreneurial and creative initiatives, increasing the productivity and complexity of the economy, and reducing regional disparities.

Implementing structural reforms to liberalize the economy will be crucial to economic success.

A decree on measures to liberalize the economy has been developed in line with Tokayev’s directive issued during an expanded government meeting this February.

First, the decree emphasizes institutional support, with plans to establish a National Privatization Office. Additionally, measures are designed to enhance the independence, quality, and governance of the Samruk-Kazyna National Welfare Fund and its subsidiaries.

Second, the government plans to improve regulatory policies and streamline procedures for starting and operating a business. This includes digitalizing consumer access to commercial services provided by quasi-governmental organizations and simplifying the process for obtaining technical specifications and connecting to utility networks.

Third, the decree includes measures to protect business rights and legitimate interests. These measures involve decriminalizing certain economic offenses, coordinating prohibitive and restrictive actions with prosecutors, and other supportive initiatives.

Implementing these comprehensive economic reforms in alignment with high global standards, including those of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), will position Kazakhstan as a leading regional hub for technology and investment.

The author is Aigerim Sultanbekova, Chief Expert of the Economic Policy Analysis Department at the Kazakhstan Institute for Strategic Studies under the President of Kazakhstan (KazISS).

The article was originally published on the Kisi.kz website.

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