Exporters' New Frontier: Kazakhstan

As our business takes us Eastward once more, let us introduce a new land of unconquered business opportunities: Kazakhstan. Famous for its vast steppes (the country itself is the same size as the whole of Europe!), rich natural hydrocarbon reserves (larger than those of the USA) and other mining resources, Kazakhstan rarely gets the attention that it deserves on exporters’ priority lists.  


While traditionally considered as one of the backwaters of Russia, due to the two countries’ cultural and geographical proximity, it is now the case that both the perception and reality are changing.

A recent short visit to the country was enough to make us realise its true potential. Vast development projects, funded by both government and private companies, a booming capital city (Astana), and a modern and expanding infrastructure make it an irresistible target. Although wages remain well below those of Western Europe in average, even the local consumer market appears attractive, with a quick glance at the streets and shopping malls of both Almaty and Astana confirming that global brands, whether for cars, food, or any other commodities, are ubiquitous.

Business practices are similar to Russia and while Kazakhs have their own Turkish-related language, Russian remains the Lingua Franca. Besides, after the exodus of the post-independence years, most Kazakhs have friends and relatives abroad. They are a very open-minded, resilient and persistent people, qualities which are quite understandable given that the extremes of temperature, between winter and summer, can be high as 80 degree Celsius. Be prepared for the warmest welcome however, and for a toast in Kumys (the national drink), to set you on your way across the limitless steppes.